PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS, PRUDENCE W. KOFOID
Copyright. Entered at Stationers' Hall.
SMALL PAPER EDITION
Traditional - Historical - Biographical
By SAMUEL HILL
"Old Lancashire Songs and their Singers," (1899),
" Lancashire Poets and their Poems, (1900),
Foirewood, or Sphnters an' Shavin's fro' a Carpenter's Bench," (1902),
" Little Spadger's Dog, and other Sketches," (1906),
"Old Lancashire Songs and their Singers," (1906), Second Issue,
" Local Poets of the Past," &c., &c.
Printed for the Author, and sold by him at his residence,
78, Hamilton Street, Stalybridge.
THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED TO
Captat7i yoh7i Bates^
CHIEF CONSTABLE OF STALYBRIDGE,
IN TOKEN OF GRATITUDE FOR HIS KINDLY
ADVICE AND HELP TO
THE AUTHOR WHEN WRITING
Samuel HI II.
mHE books dealing with the History of Stalybridge
are few in number, and fortunate, indeed, is the
Hbrary possessing a complete collection — if such a thing
The rise of its important trade, the cotton manu-
facture, has scarcely been chronicled, or its early
pioneers mentioned. Of the many worthy natives
and residents of the vale in the past, little is known ;
their worth, work, and quality having almost sunk
For a longer period than I care to admit it has been a
self-imposed task to gather and glean whatever might
be considered of interest to my fellow townspeople.
Early in the spring of the present year I read a portion
of manuscript to Captain Bates, and he, in the presence
of Alderman Fentem, suggested that a book dealing
with the past connections of Stalybridge should be
written, at the same time promising his support. Alder-
man Fentem immediately seconded the idea by saying,
VI BYGONE STALYB RIDGE
" I will stand my corner." Subsequently, J. F.
Cheetham, Esq., M.P., was waited upon, and gave me
such generous help as to lead me to hope for success in
With such an inauguration, and the untiring energy
of another friend, the scheme assumed shape. The
names of various gentlemen were added, and the list
of patrons and subscribers grew. All classes of people
supported the idea, and my task commenced in reality.
For reference and verification the following books
have been used : — " Aiken's History of Manchester,"
1795 ; " Butterworth," 1823 and 1827 '> ^r. Clay's
" Geology," 1839 ; " Butterworth," 1841 ; the various
Histories of Lancashire and Cheshire ; the early
Directories of 1794-5-6-7, 1818, 1825 ^.nd 1848 ; " Facts
of the Cotton Famine" ; "History of the Indian Mutiny,"
American data and statistics, etc., etc.
Attention has also been given to the Geological Charts
and Ordnance Survey Maps, issued by the Government,
relating to this district.
The kindness of the ladies and gentlemen who have
furnished me with facts concerning their respective
families is gratefully acknowledged. The privilege of
access to local burial-registers, and other documents, has
been of great service, and it has been a pleasure to experi-
ence the willingness of the older residents of the town to
answer the somewhat searching questions necessary for
my purpose. From the mass of newspaper cuttings
and fragments of manuscript, gathered from all sources,
much valuable information was unearthed and traced.
I believe that the book will be of interest — if not now
at some future period, when a far more able writer
than I am may find these gleanings of use and service.
Finally, I beg to heartily thank all those ladies and
gentlemen who have honoured me with their patronage
as subscribers ; had it not been for the generous help
of my fellow-townsmen, this volume could not have
seen the light of day
78 Hamilton Street
gth November, 1907. Stalybridge
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Title Page ---------- iii
Dedication ---------- iv
Preface - - - - - - - - - v, vi, vii
Table of Contents - - ix, x, xi, xii, xiii, xiv, xv, xvi
Introduction -------- xvii, xviii
Early Records of the Vale,
The Vale of Stayley— Natural Resources — Geological
formation — Mines and Minerals — The River Tame - - i
In Prehistoric Times — Ancient British Footprints —
Echoes from the mound of ' ' Bucton ' ' — Roman Traces - 6
Staveleigh and its Ancient Records— The Staveleigh
Pedigree— The Legend of Roe-Cross— The Effigies of Sir
Ralph de Stayley and his Lady — The Stayley Chapel in
Mottram Church --------- 15
Early Records of the Vale — Robertus de Rasbotham —
John of Heghrode — Flaxfield — Clearance of Timber — Staley-
Wood ----------- 22
X BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The Old Halls and Folds— Stayley Hall— Heyrod Hall -
Castle Hall— Hollins Hall— Gorse Hall — Harridge Hall - 25
The Old Bridle-paths — The Roman Roads — The King's
Highway — The Turnpike Road — Toll-bars — The old River
Ford— The First Bridge — Present Bridges - - - 36
The Advent of Mechanical Industry — The Old Hand-
Loom and the Single-Spindle — List of Farmers, Weavers
and Residents 1770 ---...-. ^2
The Introduction of Motive Power — The Dog-wheel—
The Horse-gin —The Water-wheel — The Steam Engine - 46
The Early Spinning Mills — Primitive Carding — The
First Jennies and Water Frames in the Town — Early
Carding and Preparation — The Working Hours - - 48
Opposition to the Introduction of Machinery — "King
Lud" — The Luddites and Mill Burners — The Luddite Oath —
Anti-Luddite Placard— Military Intervention— Captain Raines
at Roe Cross Inn — Executions of Luddites - - - - 52
Factory Life in 18 14 — Treatment of Operatives —
Wages — Pay-days — Accident to Joseph Bayley - - 55
TABLE OF CONTENTS XI
Early Cotton Masters and Trade
The Pioneers of the Cotton Trade — Directory 1794-
lygy — Early Cotton Spinners, Woollen Manufacturers, Iron
Founders, Millwrights, and Hat Manufacturers - - 58
Rapid Growth of the Town — Statistics of Population —
Number of Mills— Prosperity of the Cotton-Masters — List of
Mansions, &c. — The Trade Disturbances of 1830-31— The
Remedy — List of Special Constables — Precautions — The
Rising of the Chartists— The People's Charter— The Pike
Maker — "The Parson and the Pike." - - - - 65
The Cotton " Panic," its Cause
The War Cloud of 1852-3-4— 57— " The Cotton Supply
Association," John Cheetham, Esq. — Early Cotton Imports —
Comparative Prices, Returns, "and Wages on the eve of the
" Cotton Panic " --------- 78
The "Cotton Panic" and its cause — John Brown —
President Lincoln — Local Manufacturers and the War —
Commencement of the Blockade— Confederate Bonds — The
Blockade-Runners — American Sympathy - - - - 82
Xii BYGONE STALYBRIDGli
"Hard Times" — Ruin for the Masters — Suftering for
the Operatives— The Surat Weaver's Song— Bankruptcies - 86
The Bread Riots — Arrival of the Hussars— Reading of
the Riot Act — Wholesale Arrests and Convictions— Arrival
of Infantry with fixed Bayonets— More Cavalry— The use of
the Cutlass— Meeting of Operatives— Settlement - - 90
The Central Executive Relief Committee, Manchester,
and the Operatives of Stalybridge — The Sewing Classes and
Schools— The Return of "King Cotton"— The memorable
27th June, 1864 — " Hard times come again no more" —
Cotton Return, February 7th, 1865 ----- 95
The Religious History of the Town
Old St. George's, Cocker Hill— St. Paul's, Stayley—
St. George's, The Hague— Holy Trinity Church— St. James'
Church, Millbrook— Christ Church— Chapel Street School—
The People's School — The Wesleyans — The General
Baptists— The Ebenezer Baptists. Cross Leech Street —
Heyrod Union Sunday School— The Primitive Methodists—
The Congregationalists— The Methodist New Connexion
Chapel— St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church — United
Methodist Free Church— The Unitarians— The Gospel
Mission Hall, Kay Street ------- loi
TABLE OF CONTENTS XUl
The Markets of Olden Times — List of Commissioners —
Selecting the Site for the Market — Knowl Meadow and
Hyde's Fold — The Contractors — The Market Steps — Fish-
Market and Lock-ups— Staly bridge Market on Saturday
night — -The Victoria Market . . _ . . 126
Local Place-Names : — Flaggy Fields — New Town, the
Piecer's Market— Wot-Hole Steps— The Old Hen-Cote— Sud
Alley — Tabitha City — Waterloo - The Stumps — The Cock-pit 131
Old Customs and Pastimes — Staley Wood Rush-
Cart— Bull-Baiting — Peace-Egging — Bon-Fires — " Past Ten
o'clock" — Weil-Dressing ------- 139
Quaint Gleanings from the Past — The Staley Wood
Club, 1792 — The First Machine-Shop— The Blanketeers —
Millbrook — The Post-Offices of the Past — Body Snatching 147
The Mill Schools — The Dames' Schools — Private Schools
and Academies — Night Schools — The Educational Institute 156
The First Fire Engine and Fire Brigade — The Turnover
from thft Subscribers to the Commissioners — The Old
Brigade — A Fire at Ashton — The Water Supply — List of
Chief Officers - . - - - . . 160
Xiv BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Local Institutions and Movements.
The Mechanics' Institution — Its First Home — Migration
and Growth — Projected Institution — PreHminary Meetings
and Result — The ReaHsation --.-_. jQ^
The Volunteer Movement — The Astley Rifle Corps —
The First Muster-Roll— Past Officers— The Roll of Honour-
Retired Commanding Officers - ; - - - 169
The Stalybridge Old Band— The Stalybridge Ancient
Shepherds Band — The Stalybridge Harmonic Society — The
Stalybridge Boro. Band ..--..- 176
The Aged People's Tea Party — The First Committee,
Friends, and Supporters — The Foresters' Hall — The Thespian
Society of 1814 — Ridge Hill Lanes Institute . _ . 183
The Stamford Park Movement — Newspaper Corre-
spondence — Preliminary Meetings — Opposition — List of Sub-
scriptions — Opening by Lord Stamford — Turnover to the
Corporations - - - - - - - - - 187
The Co-operative Movement— Formation of Committee —
Opening of Stores — Early Struggles — Growth — Present
Position -----.-..- 195
TABLE OF CONTENTS XV
OUR LOCAL WORTHIES.
Dr. John Whitehead, Physician and Biographer —
John Bradbury, F. L. S., NaturaHst and Explorer — Jethro
Tinker, Botanist and Entomologist, our local Linnaeus-
Lieutenant John Buckley, V.C., one of the defenders of
the Delhi Magazine -------- 200
OUR LOCAL BENEFACTORS.
John Cheetham, Esq.— John Leech, Esq. — Mr. and
Mrs. Robert Piatt— Ralph Bates, Esq. - - - - 218
NOTABLE MEN OF THE DISTRICT.
George Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — John Lees,
Esq. --Thomas Harrison, Esq. -Joseph Bayley, Esq. -Thomas
Mason, Esq. — James Wilkinson, Esq. — David Harrison, Esq.,
D.L., J. P. —Abel Harrison, Esq., J. P.— William Bayley,
Esq. — Henry Bayley, Esq. — Albert Hall, Esq., J. P. —
Thomas Harrison, Esq., J. P. — Hugh Mason, Esq.,D.L., J.P.
— The Kenworthys and the Kinders — The Halls — The
Bayleys— The Mellors— The Orrells— The Wagstaffes— The
Vaudreys — The Bates' — The Sidebottoms — The Ridgways—
The Adsheads— The Ouseys. ------ 240
Francis Dukinfield Astley, Esq. -James Sidebottom, Esq.,
J.P., M. P.— William Summers, Esq., M.P.— Dr Hopwood,
V.D,, J. P.— Robert Smith, Esq. - - - - -275
Xvi BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
John Summers, Esq., J. P. — William Storrs, Esq., J.P. —
Thomas Wainwright, Esq., J. P. —Robert Broadbent, Esq.,
J.P. — Messrs. Taylor, Lang & Co.— Edward Buckley, Esq. 290
John Lees — Thornton Ousey — Joseph Wild —William
Nolan — Buckley Ousey — Samuel Maden . - - - 301
James Baxter, the ingenious blacksmith — Joseph Heap,
the village constable — Edward Godley — Joseph Hall— George
Newton — The Smith Brothers— Samuel Hurst— William
Hague, "Blind Billy"
Two Local Athletes, George Adam Bay ley & Alfred Summers 307
LOCAL LITERARY MEN.
John Jones— Thomas Kenworthy — George Smith — Rev,
Joseph Rayner Stephens ^William Chadwick — Samuel
Laycock - - - ..-..-- 317
List of Mayors --------- 329
Conclusion -------- 330, 331
" Home, the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot, than all the rest."
IN ancient times the name of the place now
known as Stalybridge was Stavelegh or Stayley,
the addition of the word "bridge" having occurred
when the first bridge was erected over the river-
ford. Situated in the vale of the Tame, which divides
Lancashire from Cheshire, there are few manufacturing
towns of the same area with so varied a surface level, for
whilst the bed of the river at its lowest point is little more
than 320 feet above sea level at Liverpool, the uplands,
hills, and moors in the vicinity rise with varied gradients
to the height of 800, 900, and even 1,300 feet. The
climate, which is moist and cold, is said to owe its
conditions to the high ridges of the Pennine Range, from
which the clouds rebound and discharge their rain in
these districts. Up to the year 1896 " the locaHties
and parochial connexions of Stalybridge were singular :
it was partly in the Hundred of Macclesfield, in the
XVlll BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
County of Chester, but principally in the Hundred of
Salford, in the County of Lancaster, one-eighth part of
the inhabitants residing in the parish of Mottram-in-
Longdendale, and the remaining seven-eighths in the
division of Hartshead, in the parishes of x\shton and
"Since 1896, however, Staly bridge has been a distinct
township in the County of Chester, for administrative
purposes. The section of the town situated in Lan-
cashire, is, for ecclesiastical purposes, still in the rural
deanery of Ashton, archdeaconry and diocese of
Manchester, the Cheshire portion belongs to the rural
deanery of Mottram, archdeaconry of Macclesfield, and
diocese of Chester. "
The position of Stalybridge is very central, and its
railway communications exceptionally convenient,
direct connections existing to all parts of the country.
By road it is distant from Manchester 7J miles,
Oldham 54, Macclesfield 19, Huddersfield 18, Shefheld
30, Stockport 7, and London 182. The pedestrian
who knows the countrv can find shorter routes.
Printed in Stalyp.ridge
GEO. WHITTAKER & SONS
Early Records of the Vale.
The Vale of Stayley — Natural Resources — Geological form-
ation — Mines and Minerals — The River Tame.
" Beyond a certain limit all is but conjecture."
^^L" HE Parish of Stayley, according to the geological
^^J charts, is outside the area of the local coaJ meas-
ures. A series of "faults," or dislocations of the strata, is
shown in the ordnance surveys, whilst the two great
local out-crops, of the " lower coal measures and
gannister beds," may be examined bj^ ail. The brook
course in Early Bank Wood reveals the various
formations on the Cheshire side of the vale — really
the commencement of the great Cheshire coal fields,
which extend to Macclesfield. An out-crop of a similar
character, the termination of the coal measures of
South-east Lancashire, can be examined in the face
of the hillside near Old St. George's Church.
2 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Thus, in the vale itself there may never have been
more than two or three coal-pits, which were of no
great depth, namely, the " Rabbit Holes," off High
Street, and the " Ridge Hill ;" yet within a short radius
there exist, according to geological publications, nearly
fifty seams of coal. These valuable deposits range in
thickness from six feet to twelve inches, and make a
total of 135 feet.
The eminent Dr. Charles Clay, M.R.C.S., published a
book dealing with the geology of this district, perhaps
one of the first volumes ever printed in Stalybridge,
and which remiains a monument to the well-remembered
" lowerth Davis."
In the pages of this rare volume will be found a
tabulated list, showing the thickness and order of the
various beds of rock, seams of coal, and shale formations.
At the beginning of last century the local coal-mine
shafts were not more than from 60 to 105 yards in
depth, depending on the bearing of the strata. The subse-
quent invention of the safety lamp by Davy — afterwards
Sir Humphrey Davy — enabled the miners to descend and
work the lower coal seams with less danger than hitherto.
In the year 1839, ^^^ period when Dr. Clay published
his book, the formations of the earth's crust in this
neighbourhood were known and named, to the depth
of 1,256 yards, and it was from the miners and mining
engineers who had been engaged in these dangerous,
yet important, operations, that the physician-geologist
obtained his facts.
The principal beds of rock through which the mine
EARLY RECORDS 3
shafts were sunk, at the cost of vast sums of money
and great loss of hfe, comprised the following : —
1 Bardsley .... 17 7 Black Rod .. .. 32
2 Park 19 8 Upholland . . . . 15
3 Foxhole .... 14 9 Austerlands . . 34
4 Trencher Bone. . 20 10 Haslingden .. 20
5 Edge Fold .. 22 11 Higher Mill Stone 30
6 New 38
Numerous other beds exist which Dr. Clay mentions
and describes, with notes as to their various qualities.
In the countryside water courses and gullies, boulder
stones are found, of almost every description of the
older series of rocks, such as " granite, porphyry, lime-
stone," etc. Extensive layers of both the upper and the
lower " boulder clays " exist, and furnished the supplies
for the industry of brick making which was formerly
carried on in the district. Fire-clay is to be found in
abundance beneath the rugged slopes of Ridge Hill,
with a trace of ironstone occasionally.
In various parts of the vale, " an immense deposit of
sand presents itself, in some places fifteen yards thick,
and is intersected by thick veins of silt or consolidated
mud, having an appearance of being deposited at
different periods ; it appears also probable that the
course of the River Tame, at some remote period, was
more northward than at the present time, and these
sand banks were produced on the original course of
Local geologists and practical miners who have spent
their lives in the coal mines of this district are united
4 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
in their opinion that Stalybridge is situated on the site
of what has been in ages past the field of "active volcanic
movement and seismic upheaval," the evidence of
which we are told "confronts us at every turn."
The fossil hunter may easily fill his wallet and enrich
his collection by a visit to any of the local quarries or
pit debris mounds, where choice specimens await his
coming. Fern fronds, branches of trees, and beautiful
shell forms exist in abundance. The magnificent
collection of fossils which has been for years on exhibi-
tion in the Stamford Park Museum is well worth
inspection and notice, and should be particularly in-
teresting to the rising generation.
THE RIVER TAME.
The River has been alluded to by a certain writer
as the ' Parent of the Mersey.' Be that as it may, it
cannot be denied that its waters, and the benefit to be
derived from their use as a means of motive power,
played a very important part in the birth and early
days of the woollen and cotton industries of this district.
The River Tame rises in the range of hills which lie to
the north of Saddleworth, and as we know it at Staly-
bridge is the joint flood of many mountain brooks and
streams. The principal of these are the Chew and the
Diggle, which join the Tame and lose their own names
at the same time. The Saxons christened the Tame,
the Diggle, and the Chew. The two latter have their
sources in the hills north and south-east of Saddleworth,
their waters being really the output of the springs in
EARLY RECORDS 5
the morasses and bogs of Featherbed Moss, Doveston
Moss and Holme Moss. These extensive moorland
tracts, solemn and grand in their undisturbed solitude,
are almost without human inhabitants. Tenanted
chiefly by game and wild fowl, they are seldom disturbed
by the presence of mankind, save during the shooting
season, or by the visit of some botanical devotee. It
has been calculated that the Tame, the Diggle, and the
Chew receive the drainage from lands having an area
of fifty square miles. The waters of Carr Brook and
Swineshaw Brook join in on the Cheshire side, whilst
the streams of Stayley also help to swell the volume.
In times past the Tame was subject to sudden floods,
which caused great damage to property on its banks.
The subsequent establishment of extensive reservoirs
and waterworks has done much to check the rush of
water from the steep hill sides. The vale of the Tame
must have been at one time a veritable Paradise, and
even to-day there are, in spite of the ravages of the
necessary smoke and grime of our manufactories, many
choice vistas of river-landscape to be seen by those
who care for such pleasures. In the higher reaches of
the tributary streams the scenery is grand and ex-
ceedingly impressive, solemn and sublime in its rugged
weirdness. The mountaineering visitor may find,
within a radius of a few miles, the undisturbed wilds
which were the homes and haunts of men in prehistoric
The course of the River Tame is of a very winding
nature, although in some places means have been used
() BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
to straighten it. Flowing through scenes of varied
associations, after leaving Yorkshire it forms the
dividing line between Lancashire and Cheshire.
Although the distance from Stockport, where it falls
into the Mersey, to its source in the Yorkshire moors,
would not be much more than twelve miles as the crow
flies, yet, in consequence of the windings and turnings
of its waters as it flows along, its real length is said
to be nearly 40 miles.
Bare and cold as the out-cropping strata may appear
to the bustling passer-by of to-day, dark and turbid
as the waters of the Tame may be, the stony faces of
rock and the inartistic bed of the river are still interesting
to the geologist.
In Prehistoric Times — Ancient British Footprints — Echoes
from the mound of " Bucton " — Roman Traces.
" The past, be it remembered, is never found isolated in nature, but is
interwoven inseparably with ihe present, thus forming
a beacon flame for the future."
Richard Wright Procter.
Vji/ HE field for prehistoric research is ample and wide
\Sir in the vicinity of Stalybridge. Although there
is not much hope of finding antiquities in the heart
of the town, the following recently came under the
Under the heading of "Prehistoric Man," in a very
EARLY RECORDS 7
embracive article dealing with the known antiquities
of Cheshire, bearing the date of 1906, it was interesting
to read the following : — " The remains of early man
appear to be scarce in this County, but one or two
* finds ' have occurred. Of the Palaeolithic, or Older
Stone Age, no trace has been discovered in Cheshire."
Dealing with the " Neolithic, or Newer Stone Age,"
which came to an end in Britain about 2,000 B.C., the
writer continues : — " Mr. C. E. de Ranee records a
quoit-shaped stone implement, about 6 inches in
diameter, from drift 20 feet below the surface at Staly-
bridge Railway Station." This relic will probably be
in the possession of one of the Cheshire Antiquarian
About the year 1882 a number of boys were playing
in the vicinity of Sand Street, Stalybridge, when they
found in a gully or drain a peculiar shaped stone. They
began to use it as a quoit, when it occurred to a by-
stander that the stone might be worthy of preservation.
Accordingly it was submitted to the notice of a local
enthusiast, who pronounced it to be " the handiwork
It proved to be the upper portion of a " quern," or
hand-mill for grinding grain. It is now in the possession
of a local gentleman who kindly lent it for inspection
at the recent Jubilee Exhibition of 1907.
Entirely different from the British and Roman hand-
mills found in the neighbouring vale of Longdendale, it
may belong to the same period as the " find " previously
8 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The slopes and plateaux of the Pennine Range have
long been the hunting grounds of devout and practical
antiquarians. Their labours have been rewarded at
intervals by the discovery of ancient relics and proofs
of the occupation and existence of man at a remote
period. Since the year 1901 a local antiquarian, Thomas
Ashton, Esq., has obtained by diligent search a rare
and choice collection of " Ancient British Flints,"
which are certainly amongst the oldest traces of man
in this district. They were kindly lent for inspection,
and were much noticed in the Jubilee Exhibition.
These relics are in the form of flint chippings, scrapers,
miniature spear points, and arrow heads, of which
there are no less than twelve choice specimens.
Antiquities such as these are ample proof of man's
existence hereabouts, when the hill tops were the haunts
of wild beasts, the hunting and slaying of which
furnished the ancient Brigantes with food and garments.
The " grit-stone of which the hills mainly consist is
not favourable for the preservation of animal remains,"
yet, under the peat of the moors, there may be preserved
many relics of remote periods. It was the custom of
the wild tribes who inhabited the local hills to cremate
the bodies of their chieftains after death, placing the
ashes inside an earthen vase, and burying the same in
a stone-protected cavity, above which another large
stone was placed for further protection.
Several of these burial urns have been found in recent
years on the Pennine Range, within easy distance of
EARLY RECORDS 9
Bucton, and there is every reason to believe that such
things exist in our own district.
The ancient Britons had a coinage of their own, a
specimen of which, supposed to be the oldest known,
bearing a date 200 B.C., is at the present time in the
possession of Lord Avebury (Sir John Lubbock).
A valuable guide, in the shape of map and chart, has
been drawn and compiled by Samuel Andrew, Esq., of
Lees. It is entitled '' Ancient British Footprints."
It is of great service, as it defines the line of British
connecting links in this district and also specifies the
places where antiquities have been found.
It is recorded that on the summit of Wild Bank the
practised eye of the antiquarian can discern Druidical
signs and tokens, in the form of rudely cut stones, etc.
In the vicinity of Ashton Hill Cross, Shaw Moor, and
also near Shire Clough, Carr Brook, there are to-day
large blocks of stone which appear to have been shaped
and placed in their present positions by the hand of man.
Perhaps the grandest memorial existent is the ancient
earth-built fort of Bucton. Bucton Castle, as it is
known to the natives and dwellers in the vale, is possibly
at the present time little more than a bleak moorland
summit, rising to the height of 1,126 feet above the
level of the sea. Bald and dun, scarred and swept by
the cutting blasts so common to its vicinity, there still
linger about its crest memories and traditions which
many people will not willingly allow to be forgotten.
Its natural commanding situation lends itself at
once to the supposition of its having been a military
10 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
stronghold in ages past, whilst as a site for a beacon
light or a signalling station few places will bear com-
parison. Situated on the confines of four important
counties — Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, and Derby-
shire — it forms a centre not to be ignored. Located
directly in the line of route between Melandra, or
Mouselow and Castleshaw, in Saddleworth, its
importance in the days when the Roman generals
inaugurated their military system must have been
well considered. A reliable historian writes in 1776
as follows : — " The Romans did well to keep possession
of these camps of one day's march that they might,
as soldiers on their motions, be sure of convenient
lodging and other necessaries every night. ... In
case of an attack they could give notice to the neigh-
bouring garrisons by means of beacons, and they were
sure of immediate assistance."
Butterworth, the local historian, who furnished
much of the material and data found in the histories
of this district, writes as follows : — " Bucton Castle,
in Micklehurst, is situated on the north-western edge
of the great moss called ' Featherbed Moss,' at about
an equal distance between Mottram and Saddleworth.
The castle is of an oval form, consisting of a rampart
and a ditch, and stands on the summit of a high hill,
very steep towards the west and south, commanding
a view over the south part of Lancashire and the whole
of Cheshire, and easterly to the West Nab in Yorkshire.
Within the interior of the ditch, close by the rampart
on the south, is a well, and opposite, on the south-west,
EARLY RECORDS II
the ruins of a building are visible standing six or seven
feet higher than the parade. The ditch is wanting on
the west side, near which the country people dug in
1730 expecting to find treasure. The inner slope from
the top of the rampart is 27 feet ; its perpendicular
6 feet ; outer slope, from the top of the rampart to the
bottom of the ditch 35 feet ; inner slope of the ditch
16 feet ; depth of the ditch 8 feet ; width at the bottom
6 feet ; height of rampart above the level of the ground
8 feet ; breadth of gateway 16 feet ; the whole of the
area within the ditch measuring 156 feet by 120. (See
A very excellent engraved plan of the site of Bucton
Castle may be seen in Aiken's " Forty Miles Round
An account exists, written by Canon Raines, of an
" accidental discovery about the year 1767 of a gold
necklace and a silver vessel at the foot of the camp.
The necklace consisted of 18 beads as large as a bullet,
and a locket upon a chain ; it was sold for a guinea.
The silver vessel would hold a quart ; it was sold for
two shillings. A third silver article of less value was
It would be very interesting to know whether these
articles are still in existence, and if so, where they are
at the present time.
A well-known local worthy of the past has left behind
him a description of a visit to Bucton and its memories,
which is entitled to preservation :
'* It was high noon when I found myself upon the
12 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
summit of * Bucton,' which commands a full view of
the fine valley that divides the counties of York,
Chester, and Lancaster. I paused for a moment or two
and endeavoured to throw my mind back to that period
at which tradition says there stood upon the spot,
— from which I gazed upon wild moors, green fields,
and isolated dwellings — an ancient castle. I walked round
and round, but in vain. I sought for its ruins ; not a
block of stone that seemed to have been used for that
purpose was to be found, else there would have been
some vestiges of its existence.
" Poets have immortalised it in song. J. C. Prince,
on wending his way up the mountain side, exclaims : —
' Before me, single in his modest pride.
Majestic Bucton swelleth towards the sky ;
His belt of dwarf oak reddening on his side.
Flinging a flush of beauty on the eye.'
" Painters have sketched his fir-clad breast, and anti-
quarians have searched in vain for proofs of its existence ;
yet the neighbourhood is rife and ripe with traditionary
tales of belted knights and fair dames, and of giants
who fought for the n3nTiphs of the valley.
" Many a legend still exists of the fairies who danced
upon the beautiful table-land behind the castle walls,
when the full moon threw her silvery rays athwart the
winding Tame, which still flows as of old through the
valley below. Some have held that it was a Roman
station ; others that it was a fort of the ancient
Britons to keep in check the incursions of the Picts
and Scots, for it is well known that after the Romans
EARLY RECORDS I3
had evacuated the country the Picts and Scots broke
down the great wall which the Romans had erected,
and ravaged the whole country as far as the county of
Lancaster. The Britons, being reduced by distress and
internal dissensions, Vortigern, the King, invited the
Saxons to his assistance, and with the united forces
drove the Picts and the Scots from the Kingdom. In
a short time the tug of war began between the Saxons
and the Britons, which resulted in the latter being
totally defeated. The conquerors divided the country
into seven kingdoms, which constituted the Heptarchy,
and eventually resolved itself into the little kingdom
of Angleland, or England, as the Saxons styled them-
selves Angles. The country was afterwards invaded
by the Danes, who made themselves masters of the
whole of Northumberland, as well as the principal
parts of Durham and Yorkshire.
" In order to show that Bucton was a place of some
importance at this period of time, an old manuscript,
found in the archives of York, about the latter part of
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, says : — ' The Saxons had
a station on the north-east boundary of Cheshire, where
it meets and is bounded by Lancashire and Yorkshire.'
" This must be the vicinity of Bucton, for within
half-a-mile of the foot of the mountain is the junction
of the counties alluded to. It is further stated in the
document that ' about this time the valley was an
impassable forest, from the head of Saddleworth to the
neighbourhood of Stockport.' And as the adjoining
parts of Lancashire and Cheshire were covered with
14 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
swamps and lakes, it is probable that the Saxons were
enabled to set the Danes at defiance for a considerable
length of time ; but, ultimately, the Danes forced the
Saxons from their stronghold in the mountains, and
pushed their way through the Midland Counties as far
as the Trent. ' Prior to this, the contending parties
met on a plain at the foot of a neighbouring mountain,'
so says the document alluded to (was this the battle
of Allsmanheath ?) ' The contest was long and bloody,
but the Saxons were ultimately routed, and fled in great
disorder into the mountains of Wales.' This misfortune
befel the Saxons in the reign of King Alfred, to whose
goodness and wisdom we are indebted for many things
which add to the comfort and happiness of the people
of this realm. No stronger evidence of the existence
of a castle upon the bleak mountain of Bucton
can be adduced than that given above ; yet we may
conclude with some degree of certainty that it was
a strong military station in the dark ages, during the
deadly struggles between the Picts and Scots, and also
between the Danes and Saxons at a later period of
There is little need for the fabrication and manufacture
of prehistoric traces in this district, the ancient lines of
road, which led the wild Picts and Scots to places where
they could pillage and destroy, will even to this day
serve to guide the seeker to out of the way spots where
he may verify the facts for himself. To the thinking
reader, in his moments of leisure, when the mind in its
relaxation shall revert to the past, these gleanings may
EARLY RECORDS I5
serve to point the way, whereby, in memory, he can
trace the footprints of half naked war-hke Brigantes,
or armed Roman Legions. He may wander along the
indistinct, and stony avenues of crumbling antiquity
until he becomes obUvious to the bustling present,
and finds himself lost in the windings, twistings, and
fascinations of the moss grown aisles of time.
Staveleigh and its Ancient Records The Staveleigh Pedigree
—The Legend of Roe-Cross— The Effigies of Sir Ralph de Stayley
and his Lady — The Stayley Chapel in Mottram Church.
I have endeavoured to blend the quick and the dead in this chronicle."
mHE chronicler of events deaHng with traditionary
and legendary history is entirely dependent on the
accounts written by bygone scribes, which, having
survived the stormy times of the Cromwellian period,
are left as literary legacies to posterity. From a number
of these ancient records a selection has been made for
THE STAVELEIGH PEDIGREE.
The following is copied from Butterworth's
History of this neighbourhood, published in 1823,
page 124 :
l6 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
" The following may be illustrative of the antiquity
of Staley-Bridge, and the ancient family of the Staveleys,
who once occupied Stealey Hall, in the sixteenth year
of Edward the Third.
" Robert de Staveley vel Staveleigh married one
Dyonysia, and held Staveley from the Lord of
Mottram, but the superior Lords were the Maccles-
fields. Oliver de Staveleigh, his successor, married
Johanna (or Joan) daughter of Hamond Fitton, of
BoUin, and widow of Richard Venables. He was
patron of the Church of Thornton-le-Moors in right
of his wife.
" The direct male line of the Staveleighs continued
here until Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Ralph
Staveleigh, married Thomas, son and heir of John de
Assheton ; which Thomas and Elizabeth, loth of
Edward 4th, passed a fine of the said manor and land
and messuages therein, settling the same on themselves
and the heirs of the said Elizabeth. Thomas Assheton,
last male heir of the eldest branch of the ancient family
of Assheton, of Ashton-under-Lyne, was knighted at
Rippon 7th, of Henry the 7th, and is supposed to have
contributed largely towards rebuilding the Church
of Ashton-under-Lyne, on the steeple of which is the
coat of arms of Assheton (argent, a mullet, sable)
impaling that of his first wife, Elizabeth Staveleigh.
He died about the 8th year of Henry the 7th, leaving
a daughter by his second wife, Agnes Harrington, of
Westby ; and by his first wife he had issue, Margaret,
wife of William Booth, of Dunham Massey, and
EARLY RECORDS I7
Elizabeth, wife of Randle Assheton, who died without
issue. By Inq. P.M. 2nd of Ehzabeth; EHzabeth
Assheton, widow, held lands in Staveley and Godeley,
and I id. rent therein in soccage from the Queen (by
reason of the forfeiture of Francis, Lord Lovell) by
the render of id. value xxi£ xs. xd., of William Booth,
great-grandson of her sister, Margaret Booth, next of
kin and heir.
" George Booth, son of the said Margaret, by in-
quisition, 23rd of Henry VIII., had previously died,
seized of other lands in Mattely, Godeley, and Styall,
held as above, value 28£ 13s. 4d.
" From this family Stayley has passed, with other
estates of the Booth's, to the present Earl of Stamford,
who holds a Court Baron for the same. The township
is also subject to the Leet of Mottram."
THE STAVELEIGH TRADITION.
There are many and various settings of the legend
or tradition of Staveleigh, the best to the writer's
thinking being the version given by our local historian,
Butterworth, in his book published in 1827, from which
we quote the following : —
" In the south aisle of the chancel of this (Mottram)
Church, which belongs to the Earl of Stamford as
representative of the Stayleys, is the monument of a
knight and his lady, without arms or inscription, most
probably (says Lyson) one of the family of Staveleigh,
or Stayley, which became extinct in the reign of Edward
the Fourth. The current tradition of the place for the
l8 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
last two centuries respecting this rude monument has
been that it is the monument of the Rowes of Stayley,
but it does not appear that the family of Roe had any
connection with Stayley, which passed by a female heir
to the Asshetons and then to the Booths. It is known
that there is still in existence a society, who, though
the order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, or
Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, are abolished, still
meet in private, keeping up the insignia and some
of the rules observed by this order of Crusaders, in
what they denominate a conclave. It is also known
that the Knight represented in the monument we are
now speaking of has certain ' insignia ' belonging
thereto that denominates the person to have been a
Knight Crusader. This order are in possession of the
following tradition, which has been handed down to
the present members, respecting this knight and his
lady. Sir Ralph Staveleigh, in the time of Richard the
First, accompanied that monarch to the war, generally
denominated the Holy War (which that monarch waged
to the impoverishment of England and the loss of
the flower of the British youth), and in that foolish
contest with the Saracens for the recovery of the Holy
Sepulchre, Sir Ralph, aforesaid, was taken prisoner and
confined in Syria for many years, but suffered at
last, on his parole of honour, to return to his native
land in order to raise a certain sum on his estates or
otherwise as his ransom.
" Travelling in disguise (it being thought so dis-
honourable to return from so sacred a war, in any
EARLY RECORDS I9
otherwise than what is termed an heroic manner) he
arrived at a place near his former habitation, where
cwo roads traversed each other. At this place he was
met by an old domestic, accompanied by a dog, which
had long been a domesticated animal. The dog was
the first of the two to recognise its former master, and
by its barking and fawning manner brought the attention
of the servant to survey the pilgrim, who, on close
attention, he perceived also was his former master.
" An explanation followed, the servant informing
him that Lady Staveleigh was the very day following
going to be married to another man. This was indeed
a cross, and demanded a symbol to denote the same,
which was subsequently erected by the Knight.
" He was, however, determined to see his Lady,
prior to the second engagement.
" He proceeded therefore forward to the ancient
mansion of the Staveleighs (the very site of the modern
one) and desired to see Lady Staveleigh.
" He w^as told, however, it was impossible, as she
was in preparation for her nuptials the following day,
and could not be seen by any other man but her
intended bridegroom. He begged, however, to be
refreshed wdth a cup of metheglin. This was granted,
and when he had finished the same he dropped a private
ring into the bottom of the vessel and desired the servant
maid to deliver the cup and ring to her lady.
" Upon Lady Staveleigh examining the ring, she
exclaimed whoever was the bearer thereof must be
either Sir Ralph Staveleigh or some messenger from
20 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
him. But, added she, if it be really Sir Ralph himself,
he is acquainted with a certain mark or mole upon me
in a concealed part that none but himself knows of.
The Knight returned an answer by the servant which
convinced Lady Staveleigh that it was Sir Ralph him-
self. The joy on his return may be better conceived
than described, and a memorial of, his return has ever
since been preserved where those roads crossed each
other, at the identical place where the favourite dog
and the old domestic met their returning long lost
' But oh ! What joy, what mighty ecstasy.
Possess' d her soul at this discovery !
Speechless and panting at his feet she lay.
And short-breath' d sighs told what she could not say.
Nine thousand times his hands she kissed and pres't.
And look'd such darts as none could ere resist.
Silent they gazed, his eyes met hers with tears
Of joy — while love and shame suffused hers.'
" I have seen this account in manuscript belonging to
Sir Joseph Radcliffe, of Mills Bridge, near Huddersfield,
wrote, I believe, by the hand of Thomas Percival, Esq.,
of Royton, and this account also, with some variations,
has been subsequently communicated to me by a
friend connected with the late Mr. Meredith, of Liverpool,
who belonged, when living, to the Order of the Conclave
before-mentioned, and was, when living, one of the
finest antiquaries of his time as a country man."
So much, therefore, for the tradition of the ancient
monument inMottram Church according toButterworth.
EARLY RECORDS 21
It has been the privilege of the writer to see and
examine a number of these ancient efhgies in various
parts of the country. Local antiquaries have expressed
the opinion that the Stayley monument must have
originally been placed in the ancient grave-yard, and
that it received periodical coatings of whitewash,
which formed a crust upon its surface. The exposure
of the old monument to the searching atm.ospheric
effects which are to be encountered in the bleak church-
yard would not add to the preservation of the historic
We can look upon the stony figures as they appear
weird and silent in the dim religious light, and our
minds are tarried back to the times of " Chivalrous
Knights in armour bright." But alas ! the dust of
those knights may even now be mingling with that
of their vassals and serfs in the silent church-yard
THE STAVELEIGH CHAPEL.
The ancient chapel of the Staveleigh family still
exists in Mottram Church, and is dealt with by a
reliable writer as follows : —
" The south chapel, formerly attached to the manor
of Stayley, is now the property of the trustees of the
late Edward Chapman, Esq., having been acquired by
the late John Chapman, Esq., about i860, and has
since been restored and inclosed with oak screen-work.
In this chapel, against the wall, is an altar tomb with
recumbent effigies of a Knight and Lady representing
22 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Sir Ralph de vStavele}', or Staley, temp. Hen. IV., and
his wife. The figure of the knight is in plate armour,
with a conical bascinet, and his wife is attired in a high
collared gown with sleeves ; both wear collars of SS,
and at their feet are dogs."
The collar badges of SS, referred to above, were in-
troduced by Henry IV., and are believed to be the
initial letters of his motto " Soveraygne."
The gem of Mottram Church from the antiquarian's
point of view is undoubtedly the ancient Norman Font
now placed near the South door. It is the only relic
we possess of the Church which existed on this site in
1291, and it has brought to Mottram many enthusiasts
from all parts of the country, who find an excellent
and ever willing guide in the person of the present
Vicar, the Rev. W. A. Pemberton, M.A.
Various traditionary and legendary tales have been
written in connection with the ancient monuments
mentioned, and it is with mixed feelings that the
pilgrim to Mottram Church, after treading the aisle,
peers through the screen at the motionless representa-
tives of " Old Ro and his wife."
Early Records of the Vale — Robertus de Rasbotham — John
of Heghrode — Flaxfield— Clearance of Timber — Staley- Wood.
" Fortunately we have friends in the antiquarian court."
Richard Wright Procter.
HE earliest records of the Vale of Staley are
inseparable from the names of Sir Ralph de
EARLY RECORDS 23
Stayley, Robert de Hough, John del Heghrode, and
Robertus de Rasbotham.
Fortunately there is in existence the ancient rent
roll, or a copy thereof, of Sir John de Assheton, dated
1422, in the reign of Henry VI.
From this record we find the names of Rasbotham,
Heghrode, Aries, and Woodfield existed four hundred
and eighty-five years ago.
Not only are the names of the various tenants given,
but also the acreage and amount of money, or service
required for the use and possession of the land per
annum. A table of comparison in the value of money
then and now would be interesting. We quote from
the records as under : —
Robert of the Rasbotham, for the Rasbotham
William of the Woodfield, for the Erles (Arlies)
John of Heyrode, for an intake at Bastall
The same John, for William Ffield
John of Heyrode, for his tenement
The Heir of Thomas of Staveley, for the Bastal
The same Heir of Staveley, and the Heir of
Thomas of Trafford, and others, for Assheton
Lands and Palden Woods - - -40
Nearly two hundred years after, viz., 1618, there'was
" an assessment lay'd and appointed in the fifteenth
year of the reign of James the First." Under the
heading of *' Hartshead " there are several items
connected with this district, and one in particular is in-
teresting since we have known the direct descendants
of the tenant named,
Nicholas Lilley, 18 acres 1 ^ ^^
More in Common, 6 J
24 BYGONE STALYBRTDGE
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the occupa-
tion of the people, in addition to agriculture, was flax
dressing, and as Ashton-under-Lyne was a centre or
market for flax dealing, it must have been an important
industry. The name of Flax-field is familiar, and
occasionally the delicate bloom of a little plant has
been gathered in the pastures near the farmstead,
which botanists have pronounced to be the flower of
The Vale of Staley is described by one historian as
" The native place of the prime oak, towering on high ;
the stately monarch of the forest, lofty as the taper
pine, ' fit for the mast of some great admiral, ' or,
rather destined for ribs to bear on the broad and
magnificent bosom of the ocean the British thunder
in after ages. These stately monarchs overspread this
part of the country."
A description of the vale in 1785 simplifies the
meaning of the term Staley- Wood :
" Such was the beautiful scenery of this valley in
the spring and summer months, that it quite astonished
the visitor, or well-informed stranger. . . . For
many years nature had been very lavish in adorning
and beautifying the Vale. The fine hedgerows and
lofty timber in the woods, with underwood of holly,
hazel, crab and blackberry, were tenanted by the hare,
wood fox, and squirrel, and at certain times of the year
with flocks of stock- doves and birds of prey. . . .
Within a period of 18 years (1784- 1802) there have been
three heavy falls of timber on the Earl of Stamford's
EARLY RECORDS 25
estates in the Parish of Ashton-under-Lyne and the
townships of Stayley, Matley, and Hattersley. The
last great fall was about the year 1802, and in the
spring of that year the greatest part of the timber was
cleared away and sent to Liverpool for shipbuilding
purposes It was calculated that the
Earl would make ' the amazing sum of £70,000 from
the produce of that sale !* "
Shortly after this clearance of timber the explorer,
John Bradbury, visited his old home at Souracre, and
he is said to have complained of the spoliation of the
forest, remarking *' that had it not been for the shape
of the hills he would scarcely have known the place
where he was born."
Eighty years ago (1827), the description published
of Staley-Wood is as follows : —
" The wood between Mossley and Staleybridge, the
sylvan beauty of which renders truly romantic Scout
Mill, Heyrod Hall and parts adjacent, is also worthy
of particular notice."
The Old Halls and Folds— Stayley Hall— Heyrod Hall
Castle Hall— Hollins Hall— Gorse Hall— Harridge Hall.
"When we pine for a missing link of any description, we have only to seek
and we shall find ; but we must delve deeply into the sand which
the great Traveller sheds from his hour-glass."
Richard Wright Procter.
HE ancient home of the Staveleighs is the oldest
structure in the vicinity. It has been claimed that
26 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
its date of erection was the middle part of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth, A.D. 1580. A well-known local
enthusiast in antiquarian matters, however, fixes its
date as the latter part of the reign of Charles I., or the
early years of the sovereignty of Charles 11. One
thing is certain, that the present building stands on a
site previously used, and moreover contains in its
construction much material which has seen service
in some earlier building or buildings previous to the
erection of the present one.
In Aiken's '' History of the Country Forty Miles
Round Manchester," there is a very fine engraving
from a painting evidently executed about 1793. Little
change is apparent to-day, save that the foliage depicted
in the rear of the building has passed away, to its
detriment in an artistic sense.
The additional modern farm buildings call for little
attention, the interest historically being in the old
Hall itself. The frontage is characteristic of the days
of the Cavaliers and Roundheads, its formation being
somewhat remarkable in the possession of five gables.
Perhaps the best description that ever came before
our notice is the one from which the following extract
" The Hall is built of stone parpoints, or flag stones,
quoined with tooled ashlar at the angles, and covered
with grit-slate or shingles The mouldings
of the string cornice supporting the roof date back to
the early part of the seventeenth century. . . . The
southern front, the one now under notice, comprises
EARLY RECORDS 27
five gabled bays, the centre one deeply recessed, whilst
the adjoining ones on each side are somewhat advanced,
and lineable with each other The eaves
somewhat project beyond the walls ; but gone are
the barge boards and the gable finals, once doubtless
ornamenting the structure. With three exceptions,
which will be noticed, there is one window, and no
more, in each storey of every bay. . . . The
windows are destitute of transoms, but are divided
into several lights by strong mullions with hollow
" The centre bay displays a window of four lights
on the ground storey, a similar one in the next, and one
of two divisions in the uppermost.
" In the bay to the east of it the two lower storeys
have windows of three lights each, with an ' owl hole '
in the third, and a sub-entrance in its western face.
. . . . The corresponding bay on the opposite side
of the centre part is similarly treated in the upper
storeys, but in the lower one is dignified with the
principal entrance door under a capacious archway.
The two extreme bays have each five light windows
in the two lower storeys, and two light ones in the
highest apartments. The main entrance door is massive
in size, and made of stout oaken planks, with ribs placed
over the joints, in order to keep out the cold and add
to the ornament imparted by clout-headed nails driven
in rows placed in diagonal style." Such then is a
quotation from a description of the ancient building,
written more than a generation ago, unquestionably
28 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
by a person of experience and talent. In proof of
the statement and belief of the existence of earlier
buildings on the same site, we submit the following
gleaning : —
** Whilst examining the left wing, it was quite
apparent that a considerable number of joists had
previously done duty in some other building, probably
the predecessor of the present one, and had formed
portions of the framework of some internal partition,
or * twining,' or division wall. This was clear enough
from one side having the usual triangular grooving,
and the other the shallow holes in which the railings
and wicker-work were fixed previous to filling up with
daub or clay plaster.
" The roof of this gable is divided into four bays by
three trusses. The principals of two of these trusses
are ornamented with rude angular mouldings, and
morticed for the reception of braces, which have once
formed a semi-circular or pointed arch within the
principals. It is quite evident that these timbers have
once figured as the roof- timbers of the Great Hall,
in a much more ancient structure than the present one.
The braces, which imparted an ornamental character,
to them, have been cut out, as they would have been
in the way when placed in their present position."
On the strength of the belief of bygone antiquarians,
who it appears thoroughly overhauled the ancient place,
it would appear that when the splendour of Stayley
Hall as a family residence declined, it fell into disuse,
and many of its apartments became unnecessary. The
EARLY RECORDS 29
result was that the occupiers from time to time made
free use of the old oaken panelling and partitions —
even of the room floorings — for fuel or other purposes.
That such a course of proceedings was vandalism, in
the eyes of all lovers of the antique, is but a mild way
of expressing it. Again, the effect of time, atmosphere,
and the weather generally leaves inevitable imprints,
the more so in cases like that of Stayley Hall, for
standing as it does in a bleak position exposed and
unsheltered, it must have borne the brunt of a
thousand storms and tempests.
The site has been compared with that of the Roman
fort " Melandra," in the Vale of Longdendale, and
there is a certain amount of similarity in their respective
Stayley Hall crowns a huge mound of natural forma-
tion, three of its sides shaped hke a strong " bastion,"
whilst the fourth could have easily been protected and
guarded, at short notice, by a ditch or moat. It is
quite within the range of possibility that the spot was
selected by the warriors of old on account of its many
advantages in a mihtary sense.
The requirements of the people in modern times
have resulted in great changes, naturally and com-
mercially, and the days of " chivalry " are now things
of the past.
Millbrook, marked on the old maps of the eighteenth
century as Stayley Mill, may owe its name to the fact
that an ancient corn mill stood by the streamlet's side,
at which the tenants and servants would grind their
30 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
corn, according to the custom of the Manor. The
local names, Flax-field, Swineshaw, Cops-field, Crows-
i'th'-Wood, and Ditch-Croft, all seem to savour some-
what of the days of long ago. Before quitting the
subject, it may be of interest to refer to the origin and
reason for the '' owl holes " mentioned in this article.
Long years ago, corn was very extensively grown in
this neighbourhood, and stored in the capacious
granaries and barns, until required. As a natural result,
hosts of field mice and swarms of barn rats made serious
inroads on the farmers' stock.
John Bull, however, was alive to the fact that the
pest had its remedy in the sense that the common owl
is the natural enemy of all four-footed vermin. Thus
it came about that owls were encouraged about the old
farmsteads ; and means of ingress and egress made for their
special convenience. Under the protection of the farmer,
owls became almost domesticated, and formed a
necessary part of the homestead's live-stock. Several
breeds of owls were known to exist in this district thirty
years ago, and within the last three years a fine
male specimen of the horned owl was shot on the banks
of the Tame.
The historian Butterworth refers to Heyrod Hall as
follows : — " Heyrod Hall, now in the occupation of
Messrs. Lawton and Shelmerdine, is an ancient estate
situated to the N.E. of Staley-Bridge, on the border
of the Tame ; on the front of the hall are the following
EARLY RECORDS 3I
initials and date, ' R.W., 1638.' In the first year of the
reign of Henry VI. (1422) it appears to have belonged
to John del Heyrod, paying something to the Lord of
the Manor, Sir John de Assheton, after which date it
passed into the family of the ' Dukinfields of Dukinfield,'
and was purchased from them by the family of Shelmer-
dine, who have resided there one hundred and fifty
years." The Old Hall was demohshed about 1845.
" There is a woollen mill situated on this estate
belonging to Messrs. Lawton and Shelmerdine, remark-
able as one of the only two in the parish of Ashton
Shortly after the foregoing was written Heyrod Hall
Estate passed into the possession of the Ouseys. When
the railway was constructed through the estate, about
1843, the company bought it, and afterwards, on the
completion of the line, sold it back to the original owners.
Gorse Hall, which gives the name to the estate long
connected with the family of the " Leech's," and now in
the occupation of G. H. Storrs, Esq., is said to have been
so-called from the abundance of gorse which formerly
grew on the hill slopes thereabouts. The mansion
known as Gorse Hall was erected by John Leech, Esq.,
but the ancient or Old Gorse Hall, which is now used as
cottages, belongs to a bygone period of which we have
been unable to find the date.
32 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Harridge Hall is a building of the type now fast
disappearing, and is situated on the line of the old
Roman road on the fringe of Harridge Moor, near Carr
Brook, and is marked on the ordnance maps.
CASTLE HALL FARM.
Probably the oldest building in the town of Staly-
bridge is the ancient structure near the Central Co-
operative Stores, in Grosvenor Street. Its venerable
and old-time appearance has often commanded the
attention of local antiquarians. The land in front,
now a portion of Grosvenor Street, is marked on the
old deeds as " Barn Meadow,"
Castle Hall, from whence the district so-cahed, of
Stalybridge, takes its name, is still remembered by some
of the aged residents. It is referred to by the historian
Butterworth in his book, published 1823, p. 124, as
follows : — " The house occupied at present by Mr. Lees
at Staley-Bridge ; .... its former name they say
was Castle-HiU, it is seated on the top of a steep rock,
on the Cheshire side, impending over the River Tame,
which forms a sort of natural cascade as it falls from the
detached and broken rocks beneath.
" The present house alluded to, they say, was built
by William Dukinfield, and re-sold to a Mr. Kenworthy,
but is now the property of a Mr. Lees."
EARLY RECORDS 33
William Dukinfield died in 1735, and there is on the
south side of the Old Chapel, Dukinfield, a fine altar-
tomb erected to his memory, with a suitable inscription.
Tradition says that William Dukinfield erected his
mansion on the site of a still earlier residence.
The following description of the old Hall is preserved :
" Castle Hall, a building which stood close to the river's
edge, on a site near the present Market Hall. It w^as a
castellated mansion, and its turret will always have an
abiding recollection for me. The style of architecture
was Elizabethan, although not quite correct in all its
details. It had a comfortable and handsome appearance,
and, standing as it did in a comparatively secluded spot,
it gave one the impression of a substantial and at the
same time cosy home." Castle Hall was demolished in
HOLLINS OLD HALL.
Hollins Old Hall was part of the residence of the
late Mr. Stephens, and formed the kitchen premises,
" Prior to its renovation this old building was overhauled
and unroofed. Under the grey flag*slates was found a
mixture of clay, chopped straw, etc., several inches in
thickness, and on its removal the rafters, which were of
sound oak, were exposed. The walls were formed of
massive beams, morticed and jointed. Stout pegs were
driven through the tenons. Long sticks or branches
of ash were fixed into the spaces, and these were again
crossed by others, forming a crate-like frame. These
were filled in with raddle and daub, and this completed
34 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
the walls of the house. It would appear that Hollins
Hall owes its origin to the days of the half-timbered
erections. Up to the period of 1850 a very fine yew tree
flourished in the garden of Hollins Hall ; it was, however,
cut down, and the timber was found to be in excellent
condition, although there is no telling how old the tree
The ancient building still exists, and is worth the
notice of the lover of old-time memorials.
THE OLD FOLDS.
After the Restoration of Charles IL, when the sounds
of strife had ceased and peace had become permanent,
the daring spirits who had been busy either with the
Cavaliers or the Roundheads as soldiers, found them-
selves without occupation. Tradition says that from
this source there originated gangs of freebooters, bold,
hard}.' fellows, who thought little of the eighth command-
ment, and who had few scruples as to whose cattle,
sheep, or horses they confiscated — " all was fish that
came to their net." The farmers of that period believed
in the adage " Prevention is better than cure," and in
order to protect their livestock, as well as for their own
safety, they erected strong and substantial buildings,
which were called " Folds," usually having the name of
their owner prefixed. Generally there was a house for
the master, with cottages for the dependants, and
housings, barns, and shippons for the stock. There are
still several fine examples of these venerable strongholds
in the neighbourhood. It was the custom at this period
EARLY RECORDS 35
for the male members of the family to sleep with fire-
arms or other weapons of defence underneath their
The principal folds in this district, some of which have
been demolished, were as follows : — ^Lilley Fold, Ridge
Hill Lane, (1625) demolished ; Higher Fold, a fine stone
house wath muhioned windows, entrance hall, and "owl-
holes," dated 1700, demolished 1902 ; Flatt's Fold, Cock
Brook, site of Tennis Ground, demolished about 1880 ;
Hyde's Fold, demolished for the erection of Town Hall
1829 ; Sidebottom Fold, shown on old maps of 1794 ;
Bradley Fold, Huddersfield Road ; Kinder Fold,
Mottram Old Road ; Heyrod Fold, Heyrod ; Souracre
Fold, Far Souracre ; Higham Fold, Park Hall ; Bower
Fold, Mottram Road, and others. The fine old home-
stead, The Ashes, Mottram Old Road, is veritably the
last of its kind in this district ; it was built in the troubl-
ous times of the early part of the eighteenth century,
and there is a local tradition connecting it with the
36 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
'The Old Bridle-paths— The Roman Roads— The King's High-
way— The Turnpike Road — Toll-bars — The old River Ford— The
First Bridge — Present Bridges.
" The thoroughfares or byways outHned upon our primitive maps, or
described in our earliest chronicles, are landmarks
to the historical student."
i I VCORDING to the historian Whittaker, we learn
fj i M t that " a Roman Station was fixed at Stockport,
and that a branch of road therefrom extended into the
parish of Ashton-under-Lyne, near the foot of Staley-
Bridge, which was the third road from the said station,
and is denominated Staley Street for a mile together."
Staley Street to-day commences near the Glent Quarry,
Wakefield Road, and leads to the top of Ridge Hill.
The upper surface of the out-cropping rock forms the
floor of the road in a great many places. It is interesting
to look across the vale from the elevation of Early Bank
Road or from Mottram Old Road, and vice versa. There
have been found traces of Roman roads on the Dukinfield
estate at various times, and local antiquarians believe
that a Roman road came from the direction of Dukinfield
Old HaU towards Stalybridge, as if to form a connection
with the old road known as Ridge Hill Lane, which is
said to commence really near the Bridge Inn, Water
Road. The Roman road from Werneth Low^ which
passes through Hattersley and Matley, and along the
western slope of Harrop Edge, joins the ancient road
from Melandra Castle, near the deep cutting.
EARLY RECORDS 37
From thence it passes on to Gallows Clough, where
traces may be seen of a very ancient road now in disuse.
Gallows Clough is situated at four road ends. The
Roman road at this place leads close to the edge of the
moorland. Mottram Old Road is the ancient track which
winds down to the former river ford at Portland Place.
One reason given for the construction of the line of road
along the moor edge is that it was above the line of
timber-growth, and in the far-off times, when the roads
were made, the vale would, it is assumed, be a dense
forest of thick underwood and massive trees, the
sheltering place and abode of wild beasts and wilder
men. The Roman soldiers made their roads where they
would not become choked with trees and vegetation, a
fact which is soon apparent on visiting any place where
vestiges of their work are to be seen.
The eye of the antiquarian soon detects the signs of
old roadways, and if a map were prepared of the country
about Stalybridge deahng with the old bridle-paths and
pack-horse roads, it would be invaluable and interesting.
To-day the roads as used in bygone times are of
little service, except now and then to trace out some
demolished hill-side homestead. A very ancient road
leading from Mouselow to Bucton may be traced by the
indent in the purple ridge of the moor as it shows against
the sky-line when looking north-west from Hadfield oi
Padfield. Many of these points and facts were shown
to the writer by the late Isaac Watt Boulton, Esq.,
who was one of the best local topographers of his day
and generation. The old roads left by the Romans
38 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
remained the principal arteries of traffic until the reign
of Queen Anne. Little was done in the shape of repair
except when the King and his retinue passed through
the district. Upon such occasions the route taken
would be put in order, the ruts levelled, and the brush-
wood or timber cleared. The ancient fords and bridges
would be made passable, thus obtaining for the roads
receiving attention the title of the "King's Highway."
About the year 1700 attempts were made to improve
the roads, but it was not until near the end of the century
that Parliament tackled the question. Subsequently
Acts were passed by the Government for the making
of new roads, and the diverting and mending of old
ones. District trusts were formed, with powers to erect
gates and barriers, and to take toll from persons using
such roads ; this was the inauguration of the " Turnpike
Roads." Highway Acts came into operation authorising
parishes and townships to appoint surveyors, whose
duties included the supervision of the construction of
the roads, and the collection in their respective districts
of the rates and taxes. Counties and hundreds had the
power to erect bridges over the rivers, where needful.
The improvement of the roads enabled the pack-saddle
and pillion to be discarded, and the stage-coach, with
its postillion, guard, and driver appeared. We have no
authentic record of highwaymen and their exploits in
this locality, although the lonehness of the outskirts
might have aided their schemes. The name of " Gallows
Clough " is suggestive enough, coupled with its location.
The well-remembered " Toll-bars " of Heyrod, Copley
EARLY RECORDS 39
and the " Sand Mill " at the Deep Cutting have dis-
appeared in our own time, though the houses of the
gatekeepers at Heyrod and Copley still exist.
The oldest turnpike road in this district is inferred to
be that now known as Huddersfield Road. According
to Aiken it was being completed, or had just been
completed, at the time when his book was in the press,
Quoting from a newspaper cutting dated 1862-3, we
have the following interesting statement : — " Eighty
years ago, and within my own recollection, the roads
from Manchester, Ashton, Stockport, etc., were in the
most wretched condition. Over the ranges of the hills
to the south-western counties, the transit of goods
between this county and those districts was by pack-
horse. I can well remember one gang of pack-horses
passing through this village (Stalybridge) to south York-
shire, Nottingham, and Lincoln. To the best of my re-
collection this was eighty years ago this last summer.
As I advanced in years I was often told that this was
the last gang that passed this way. The roads began to
be improved, and stage waggons and carts for the
purpose of sending goods to Lancashire and Cumberland
and the eastern counties took the place of pack-horses.
A coach road was made in the latter part of the i8th
or very early years of the 19th century, from the
junction of Old Mottram Road and the present Mottram
Road. This road came through the lands now forming
the " Woodlands " and " Foxhill " estates. A portion
of the old road is still discernable as the pedestrian
40 BYGONK STALYBRIDGE
ascends Mottram Road, a little way above the "Wood-
The " Deep Cutting " was made when the Manchester
and Saltersbrook turnpike road was formed, and was
completed about the year 1825-6, and it is said occupied
about 12 years in its construction.
The River Bridge at Portland Place is the third of
which there is any record.
The ancient road through the village crossed the river
at this place as a ford, the remains of its approach may
be seen on the Lancashire side. Old residents speak of
its having been paved ; be that as it may, soon after the
year 1600, a bridge was erected, which gave to the
village the name of Staley-bridge.
In 1707 a very substantial erection of two arches was
built by the land owners on either side of the stream,
the date stone, with their initials or those of their
predecessors being fixed in the pillar near the iron
palisades. This stone forms part of the present
structure on the Cheshire side.
About the year 1787 a bridge was erected by Mr.
Astley, near the Bridge Inn, and was in existence until
about 1845, when the iron-sided bridge of our own
time replaced it. The present bridge at this place is the
The iron bridge in Melbourne Street was erected
about 1834, t>ut only as a roadway for vehicles, the
EARLY RECORDS 4 1
footpaths were added later. About 1865 the bridge
was altered and improved to its present state.
Victoria Bridge was first erected in 1869, and has since
Bayley Street Bridge was built in 1854, ^^ connection
with the new line of road to Ashton.
Flatt's Bridge replaced a primitive structure which
was washed away by a flood.
The wooden bridge at Crookbottom is a private one,
as is also the bridge at North End ; another bridge of
this class formerly existed near the paper mill.
(T Rafter L
The Advent of Mechanical Industry — The Old Hand-Loom and
the Single-Spindle — List of Farmers, Weavers, and Residents 1770
" It is not in the dis-interment of facts, but in the manner in which they
take life and colour that originality exists."
IN the year 1700, a cottage in the village with a
convenient loom-house, and a small garden in
which there could be grown vegetables, etc., sufficient
for a family, could be had at a rental of one and a
half or two guineas per annum.
Wool- weaving and farming were carried on conjointly,
the farm receiving attention when necessary, the
remaining portion of the time being utilised in the
The average earnings of a weaver-farmer, apart from
the income from his farming, varied from 8s. to los. 6d.
per week, whilst his sons, under his supervision and
guidance, could earn from 6s. to 8s. per week.
The wives and daughters were employed on the hand-
spinning wheel, by which process the work for one weaver
EARLY INDUSTRIES 43
required the services of six or eight spinners, thus a
great number of persons were requisite to keep up a
supply of yarn.
Spinning by this means was not a hard or laborious
occupation, so that the aged people, whose eyesight
and faculties remained unimpaired, were enabled to earn
sufficient for their wants.
The high three-storeyed buildings so familiar, even
to-day, on the outskirts of the town were built for the
purpose of woollen manufacture, frequently with a
staircase, or steps, outside the main building. Often
enough a farmer would have four or more looms in his
house, whilst others, who found occupation for their
neighbours, had as many as a dozen. The scarcity of
yarn would occasionally make it necessary for the
weaver to walk several miles, from cottage to cottage,
collecting his supply for the day's work.
The fly-shuttle was now becoming known in the
district, the invention of John Kay, of Bury, who, by
his genius, solved a problem which had puzzled the brain
of man for ages, and who, as a reward for his ingenuity,
was allowed in after years to die in poverty and
obscurity in a foreign land. Kay's invention enabled
the hand-loom weaver to earn double the wages he had
been getting when the shuttle was thrown by hand
through the meshes of the texture from one side of the
loom to the other. The cloth was better, the labour
lighter. Then came the invention of the "eight-handed
spinster"; a better supply of weft immediately followed,,
with increased profit for the weaver.
44 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
At this period, 1770, weavers were happy men, and
as a consequence of their prosperity hand-looms were
erected in almost every home in the district.
The price for weaving a piece of cloth 24 yards long
was about four guineas.
The weavers of Stalybridge " were gentlemen, wore
top boots, ruffled shirts, and carried canes when they
walked abroad. They became a class of themselves,
met in the village Inn, smoked none but churchwarden
pipes, and excluded from their presence and company
the society of other workmen."
The following list has been compiled from various
sources, parish registers, family documents, etc., and
may be relied upon as representative of the names of
the heads of the families who lived in the vale of Stayley
in the year 1770.
The names of many well-known local families will
be noticed, and there will doubtless be a large number
omitted, as the list is far from being complete.
Instead of being the unimportant place which it
appears to have been considered by some writers,
Stalybridge must have been a typically prosperous
Lancashire village: —
Adshead Edward Booth Thomas Cook Joseph
Ainsworth George Buckley John Cook James
Antrobus John Buckley Benjamin Cook John
Bates Samuel Buckley James Cook Abraham
Bardsley Jonas Buckley Joshua Cocker John
BradburyEdward Cheetham Elijah Crabtree John
Booth Edward Cook Samuel Dean Samuel
Dewsnap James Kenworthy Wm. Miller Isaac
EvansRev.Thomas Kenworthy James Ogden James
Gatlay John ,
Hampson Thomas Lawton Jarvis
Heap Robert Lawton John
Heginbotham J as. Lees Henry
Hilton Edward Lees Thomas
Hilton Jeffrey Lilley John
Holden John Lilley Nicholas
Hollinworth John Lingard Joshua
Shelmerdine J ames
46 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The Introduction of Motive Power — The Dog-wheel — The
Horse-gin —The Water-wheel — The Steam Engine.
" Facts are open to all men. They are the brick-earth upon the common-
land, from which, by right immemorial, each man may
build his castle or his cottage."
' / I ' WRITER of the latter part of the eighteenth
^ t ' t century, referring to Stalybridge, says " the
place was famous for a great length of time for weavers,
dyers, and pressers of woollen cloth. These branches
flourished in the commencement of the present century
(1700), so that here v/as the western verge of the
woollen manufacture, which extended through the vales
of the Tame and the Etherow. In 1748 the principal
employment of the inhabitants was the spinning of
worsted yarn for the Nottingham hosiers, but the
cotton trade existed in a slight degree in its
domestic stage. At this time, a single dyer monopolised
all the trade in his line with the aid of two mastiff dogs,
who were made to grind the wires by turning a sort of
canine tread mill, similar in construction to those in
which squirrels are sometimes placed, and to which a
piece of grinding machinery was attached. At the period
alluded to, the number of houses was about fifty-four,
and the inhabitants amounted to one hundred and
forty." About the year 1750 there existed several
small water mills along the banks of the river, and
the power of the stream was thus harnessed and utilised.
Tradition tells of a " Higher Mill " and a " Lower Mill "
EARLY INDUSTRIES 47
which existed at this time, the former on the site of the
present paper mill, the latter on the opposite side of
the river, where the railway viaduct crosses. The
ancient corn mill, in Old Street, was of this date. A
three-storeyed mill, worked by a " horse gin," existed
in Ridge Hill Lane ; it was afterwards converted into
cottages, the tenements being finally demolished about
fifty years ago, the site being still spoken of as the
" mill hole." As the spot would be at the head of the
well known " Swanwick Clough," it may have been
the mill belonging to Messrs. Swanwick and Slater.
The steam engine made its appearance in the village
a few years after its invention, and long before most
of the neighbouring towns and villages were aware of
its powers and advantages, and is thus referred to : —
** About 1796 the first steam engine erected here (one
of six horse-power) was introduced into Messrs. Hall's
mill, by Mr. N. Hall."
The only existing description of this historical engine
is the one given by Robert Piatt, Esq., on the occasion
of his laying the foundation stone of the Public Baths,
on the 24th October, 1868, when, in the course of his
speech, he said : "I well recollect the rough, uncouth
engine, with its wooden beam, which was simply a square
log of Baltic timber, such as you may see in Mr. Storrs'
or other timber yards. . . . Many and many a
time, when I was a little boy, have I ridden on that old
Five years after the advent of steam-power at Messrs.
Halls, the firm of Messrs. Lees, Cheetham and Co.
48 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
erected an engine of 40 horse-power to work their
cotton mill. The mill was known as the " Bastile,"
and was destroyed by fire in 1804.
The engine was afterwards removed to the " Bowling
Green Mills, where it was in existence until about
1859, when Albert Hall, Esq., added a new engine-house
and engines to his mills.
Water-power was a great factor in the early days of
the local manufacturers, and even to-day the use and
advantage of the water-wheel are well known and
The early spinning frames were known as water-
frames, because they were turned by the aid of water-
wheels ; hence the reason why the early mills were
generally located by the side of the river, or near a gully
which might be converted into a reservoir, fed from a
The Early Spinning Mills — Primitiv^e Carding — The First
Jennies and Water Frames in the Town — Early Carding and
Preparation — The Working Hours.
" The records we glean of the buried past may be found of sufficient
interest .... for these memorial pages."
Richard Wright Procter.
V I 'CCORDING to the facts recorded : " In 1763,
^ i * » cotton-spinning and weaving were becom-
ing common in the cottage garrets and shops. The
first cotton mill was erected by a person of the name
of Hall, in which carding was performed by water-
EARLY INDUSTRIES 49
power, and spinning by hand." This mill was afterwards
known as the " Soot-poke Mill," on account of the high
chimney which was built for a smoke-shaft on the
advent of the steam-engine twenty years later, and the
reference to the place is as follows : "It was situated
at the end of Wood Street, where now stands the
railway arch used as a smithy, at the bottom of Rass-
bottom Brow. Behind the mill was the dam from which
it was worked, which was supplied from the stream of
water which still flows from Ridge Hill. When the
* Soot-poke ' ceased to be used as a factory, a part of
it was let to a chandler, another portion to a wheel-
wright, and the top room for a theatre. The latter was
under the management of the ' Thornhill Family,' and
on the 29th May, 1824, it caught fire, just after the
conclusion of a performance, in which gunpowder and
fireworks had been freely used. The fire was got out,
but the building afterwards became very much
dilapidated, and was ultimately pulled down to prevent
it from falling."
Arkwright, the pioneer of mill building, erected a
mill at Nottingham in 1769, and in 1771 he built a
second, at Cromford, in Derbyshire. Five years later,
1776, the village of Stalybridge possessed a cotton mill,
which may be claimed to° have been one of, if not the
verv first in Lancashire.
THE FIRST JENNIES AND WATER FRAMES
IN THE TOWN.
From old-time records we quote as follows : "I was
50 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
set to work at the tender age of seven years (1785), and
never had the chance of going to school after. My
father had a couple of spinning jennies, one of 20 spindles
and the other of 30 spindles, and I was set to work at
one of them as a piecer. Some time after, I was sent
to feed a cotton engine at the old mill in Old Street,
in this town. Shortly after this, the drawing-frame was
set to work by power, and I was taken from the cotton-
engine and put to work at the first drawing-frame
turned by power in this town. I was nearly two years
at this work, and then became a piecer for my elder
brother on a mule jenny belonging to James and Edward
Adshead, who had some of the first mules in this town.
I was in this situation about two years, when my father
bought a couple of mules. My father and brother were
making money rapidly, but at the breaking out of the
French war a general panic set in, which was the ruin
of three-fourths of those who had embarked in the
business ; in short, all went to ruin except those who
had the means of having their machinery turned by
power. The year 1793 was the most distressing period
ever known by the oldest living."
The carding of cotton was done by using hand-cards
up to the middle of the eighteenth century. Several
attempts had been made, but without success, to do
the work mechanically ; the year 1772 saw the problem
solved, by a Manchester man named John Lees, and a
few years later the primitive engine was in use in
EARLY INDUSTRIES 5I
A quaint, yet valuable echo from those bygone times,
dealing with spinning and carding, runs thus : —
" The first spinning jenny ever I remember had 12
spindles, and my father worked upon it. I became a
spinner myself soon after rollers were invented. I
remember the time very well, because, not being big
enough, my father pulled the chamber door off its
hinges and put it so that I could reach far enough.
" I remember the time when cotton had to be washed
at the houses of the operatives with hot water and soap,
and then dried by the house fire.
"It was afterwards stretched on small cards and rolled
on a table, and then spun on a single spindle.
" There was no machinery turned by steam or water-
power used in the manufacture of cotton, all was done
by shoulder work, and the carding engines of those
days had a handle fixed to them, which was turned
like turning an old grinding stone. ... In later
years ... if four or five operatives would show
themse ves m the mill yard at 3 or 4 o'clock in the
morning, the engineer started the machinery, and
worked it as long as three or four workpeople would
remain about the mill at night. ... I have worked
from 3 o'clock in the morning until 9 o'clock at night
hundreds of times."
52 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Opposition to the Introduction of Machinery — " King Lud" —
The Luddites and Mill Burners — The Luddite Oath— Anti-Luddite
Placard — Military Intervention — Captain Raines at Roe Cross Inn
— Executions of Luddites.
" To the thoughful it may serve as a touchstone of reverie."
V^^HE cotton industry once firmly inaugurated
\r^ in the vale began to flourish and spread.
The introduction of machinery, principally the
power-loom, was, however, met by opposition. Violent
measures were adopted by the dissatisfied portion of
the people, and " King Lud " made his appearance
in the district.
It is recorded that the doors of the mills were kept
locked day and night, and the hives of industry
resembled " garrisons " rather than manufactories.
" King Lud " was the name given to the supposed
leader, and his followers became known as " Luddites."
THE OATH OF THE LUDDITES.
*' I, of my own voluntary will,
do declare and swear that I will never reveal to any
person or persons under the canopy of Heaven the
names of any of the persons composing the secret
committee, either by word, deed, or sign, or by address,
marks, or complexion, or by any other thing that may
lead to the discovery of the same, under penalty of
being put out of the world by the first brother whom
I would meet, and of having my name and character
EARLY INDUSTRIES 53
blotted out of existence. And I do further swear that
I will use my utmost endeavours to punish with death
any traitor or traitors who may rise up against us,
though he should fly to the verge of existence. So help
me God to keep this oath inviolable."
The preceding declaration was administered to all
who joined the Society, and youths, only in their teens,
were " twisted in " (which was the term used for the
To counteract the efforts of the instigators of the move-
ment placards were printed and posted on the walls of
the mills threatened, which read as follows : —
" The villain who takes this oath deprives himself
of that liberty which is the birthright of all Britons,
deprives himself of trial by jury, and binds himself the
willing slave of the vilest and most blood-thirsty
assassins and incendiaries. . . . Again, this oath
is an offence against man, as it defeats the purpose of
human justice, and enables the assassin and murderer
to escape with impunity, . . . because the traitors
who have taken this oath weakly and wickedly suppose
that it supersedes all moral and religious obligations,
and think that such a compact which they have entered
into releases them from any duty which they owe to
God, their King, and their country." Military aid was
requisitioned by the manufacturers of this district,
and a Scotch regiment, then stationed in the southern
part of England, was ordered to march to this neigh-
bourhood. The Colonel of this body of troops was the
Duke of Montrose, and although we find no record of
54 BYGOXE STALYBRIDGE
his presence here, Captain Raines, who had been an
officer in the Light Dragoons, led the soldiers into the
district, and made the Roe Cross Inn his headquarters.
There are in existence numerous despatches and other
military documents dated from that place. On the
termination of Luddite troubles, Captain Raines was
presented with a piece of plate (valued at loo guineas)
for his services. Many particulars with respect to these
times will be found in the " Gentleman's Magazine"
The reign of terror of the Luddites began in November,
181 1, and became contagious throughout the cotton
districts. Gangs of armed workpeople went from place
to place, destroying property and machinery, and even
threatening life. Powder-looms were smashed, and mills
were fired. The lioteis were arrested in large numbers,
tried and convicted, some of them perishing on the
scaffold . On June 8, 1812, eight men were executed
tor rioting at Manchester, whilst one week later, June
15, other 12 met a similar fate.
On the 20th April, 1812, there were violent riots and
disturbances at Stalybridge, whilst at Marsden, York-
shire, on the 28th of the same month, a Mr. Horsfall
was murdered as he was returning from Huddersfield
market. For this crime three men were hung at York,
on the 8th January, 1813 ; whilst eight days later,
i6th January, fourteen others also perished in the same
fashion. A very common expression in this district,
in our own time, was " Aw'd stond th' drop o' York."
EARLY INDUSTRIES 55
Factory Life in 1814 — Treatment of Operatives — Wages —
Pay-days — Accident to Joseph Bayley.
" If any gleaner can add a fresh grain to the historical harvest already
garnered, it is presumable he may bring his grain
and be welcomed."
I ^ROM a book published in the early part of last
4 ^ [ century, we glean the following interesting
reference to :
" Work, Wages, and Factory Life in Stalybridge in
1804," " Arrived at Stalybridge, where there were
many spinning factories. I applied to a man named
W. G., who had formerly been in Yorkshire, but about
twelve years before the time I applied to him, he was
one of the overlookers at Lowdam Mill, where he was very
much addicted to kicking the apprentices, and dragging
them about the rooms by the hair of the head, and
Lhen dashing them upon the floor. ... As I was
anxious to get work, and knowing that he was an
overlooker at a mill popularly known as the ' Bastile,'
I solicited work from him. . . . So to W. G. I
repaired, and as he had bestowed so many marks of
his parental regard upon me, he recognised me at once,
and very kindly got me work at ten shillings a week.
On the pay night he still more kindly drew my wages,
from which he took what he had a mind, for my bed and
board, so that there was little left for me, and I had
nothing to do but work, which was very moderate,
56 BYGONE STAIYBRIDGE
compared with what I had been used to at Lytton Mill.
" I worked at this mill for some months, but not
being satisfied with the stewardship of W. G. I took
an early opportunity of removing from his hospitable
roof, and the result was that I could live upon one-half
my wages, and lay the other half by.
" Notwithstanding the unseemly name given to the
mill, the workpeople were not locked in the rooms as
at the mills elsewhere. The wages paid, however, were
very low, and the work I was on, although not anything
equal to what I had been used to, I considered too
heavy for the wages. I was engaged as a ' stripper '
of the top cards of a carding-engine, and the fixed
quantity to turn off was six pounds a day. Some time
after I was keeping myself, the master came up to us,
while we were at work, and said we must either strip
a heavier quantity of cotton per day or we must leave,
and as I did not feel inclined to perform more work
for the pay I was receiving I asked for my wages,
and, having got them, left the * Bastile.'
" After I had left, I went to Mr. Leech, the owner
of a factory on the Cheshire side of the river — the
Bastile being on the Lancashire side — and by him I
was engaged at nine shillings a week. I found the
cotton, however, so unusual to me, and the work so
hard, that after I had been there three days I determined
to leave. I probably should not have left when I did,
as the first few days at a strange place are always hard,
until the peculiarities of the cotton and machinery are
fairly understood ; but there was another objection —
EARLY INDUSTRIES 57
wages were paid only once in three weeks. After three
days' toil, I went to my master and asked him to lend
me as much silver as my wages come to, and having
obtained it I took * French leave,' to the great offence
of my master.
" I remained at Stalybridge some time, although
unemployed, and had every opportunity of contrasting
the factory system I had been brought up to with the
one in my fresh surroundings. The next place I obtained
work at was the mill of a Mr. Bayley, whose father had
recently had one of his arms torn off by a ' blower,'
and such were the injuries inflicted that he died in a few
hours from the dreadful effects of that accident. I
stopped at this place, stripping cards for eleven shillings
a week, for many months, when, having saved a few
pounds, I determined to try my fortune at Manchester,
so I left the town and wended my way to the latter
Early Cotton Masters and Trade Disturbances.
The Pioneers of the Cotton Trade — Directory 1794-1797 —
Early Cotton Spinners, Woollen Manufacturers, Iron Founders,
Millwrights, and Hat Manufacturers.
" A few years since some cotton spinners
Settled here as new beginners,
Small rooms they filled with looms and jennies,
Which spun their shillings into guineas." — Old Ballad.
" In the lottery of life the capital prizes must of necessity
be limited to the few."
IT was the custom for the manufacturers to meet
their customers at one of the principal inns in
Manchester, or Huddersfield. From various sources a
list of Stalybridge manufacturers who had a Manchester
address in 1794 and 1797 has been compiled :
1794. — Cotton Manufacturers.
Earnshaw, William ; Hatchett, J. ; Slater and Swan-
wick ; Orrell, John.
early cotton masters
Brierley John Hall Edward
EarnshawWilliam Hall James
Gartside Samuel Knott Robert
Gregory Matthew Ousey Samuel
Cooke George Knott Daniel Kershaw John
Heginbotham Jno.Kershaw Hugh Mellor John.
Saxton James Worthington William
1797. — Cotton Manufacturers.
Brierley John Knott Daniel
EarnshawWilliam Knott D., junr.
Hall Edward Lees Joseph
Kershaw Hugh Lees John
Knott Robert Lees & Chadwick
Ogden John & Co.
60 bygone stalybridge
Hall George Heap Robert Sidebottom
Heap Joseph Lilley John Edward
Heap William Ousey Thomas.
Wagstaffe, Luke — Spindle Maker.
Mellor, Benjamin — Blue Dyer.
Piatt, John— Warp Maker.
The termination of the Peninsular War, and the fall
of Napoleon I. in 1815 had a marked effect upon the
enterprise and trade of Stalybridge. The reaction from
the troublous times of 1811-12 was great. New firms
came into existence, and several of the old ones revived,
whilst the machinists, ironworkers, and early engine
builders established themselves.
The list of manufacturers under the heading of Staly-
bridge for the year 1818 is as follows : —
1818. — Cotton Spinners.
Adshead Brothers Hall James (i) Lees Thomas
Bayley Mary Hall James (2) Mellor James
Bayley James Harrison & Sons Orrell John
Boyer Widow Piatt George Saxon George
Cheetham George Lees John & Sons Smith Samuel.
Hall James & Son Leech John
BuckleyJ.& Sons Hall Joseph Lawton William
Buckley Joseph Hyde Abel Schofield Miles
Garside Jonathan Hyde John Wilson George
Hall George Kinder George Wilson John.
early cotton masters 6l
Hall George Sidebottom Eliza- Smith John
Newton John beth Walker Isaac.
Lawton and Roe ; Wilkinson and Hazeldine.
Allot Moses Howard John Wagstaffe Luke.
Binns Charles Seel Thomas
Wainwright, Benjamin— Millwright.
LIST OF STALYBRIDGE MANUFACTURERS,
Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers.
Bayley Mary, and Sons Harrison Thomas, and Sons
Leech and Vaudrey Lees John, and Sons.
Adshead James and Bros. Howard James and Ralph
Ainsworth George and Co. Orrell Thomas and Sons
Bayley James Piatt George
Boyer Mary Piatt Joshua
Cheetham George Saville Joseph
Hall James Wagstaffe and Sidebottom
Hall James and Sons Waring John and Wilham
Howard Daniel Wilkinson and Binns.
62 bygone stalybridge
Hall George Heap Mary Shaw Hugh & Sons
Hall Joseph Hollinworth Edwd. Stelfox and Kinder
Millwrights and Engineers.
Cook Joseph; Wainwright Benjamin.
Lawton Thomas Siddall James
Ousey George Wilkinson James.
Iron and Brass Founders.
Shelter and Milburn Wainwright Benjamin.
Andrew John Marsland Jeremiah
Hall Joseph Turner Wilham
LIST OF STALYBRIDGE MANUFACTURERS,
Marked * thus are also manufacturers by power.
Adshead James, and Brothers, Staley New Mills,
Baj/ley James, and Sons, Albion Mills, Huddersfield Rd.
■•^•Bayley Wilham, and Brothers, Bridge Street Mills,
•^•'Benson George, and Co., Kershaw Wood Mills,
EARLY COTTON MASTERS 63
Booth and Hilton, Queen Street Mills,
•••Cheetham Geo, & Sons, Castle Street & Bankwood Mills,
Hall Albert and Joseph, King Street and Higher Mills,
Hall James, and Sons, Trustees of Castle Street Mills,
John Bates, Manager ;
■•'••'Harrison Thomas, and Sons, Rassbottom Mills,
Howard Ralph, Spring Grove and Stayley Mills,
■•••Johnson Henry, and Sons, Rassbottom Mills,
Kirk Benjamin, and Sons, Water Street Mills,
•^•Leech John (and Merchant), Grosvenor Street Mills,
Mills James, and Sons, HoUins Mill, High Street,
Piatt Robert, Bridge Street and Quarry Mills,
Sidebottom Edward and Sons, Aqueduct Mills, Stanley St.
■•••Stayley Mill Co. (Wilham. David and Abel Harrison),
Wagstaffe John, Aqueduct Mihs,
Wareing William, and Co., Wareing's Mill, Bridge Street,
Wilkinson James, Copley Mills, Huddersfield Road.
Hyde, George and Joseph, Stayley Castle Mill.
Kinder, James and Samuel, Stocks, Stayley.
Maude, Nathaniel (Flannel), Moorgate.
Schofield, Mark, Stamford Street.
Schofield, Samuel and John, Carr Brook.
Schofield, Son and Fry, He3n-od.
Shaw, Hugh, and Son, Castle Hall Mill.
Slater, Moses (Flannel), Carr Brook.
Iron and Brass Founders.
Dean and Tinker (and Millwrights), Eagle Foundry,
64 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Lawton, Thomas (and Machine-maker), Bennett
Milburn, Wilham, Tame Foundry, Castle Street.
Wainwright, Benjamin (and Millwright), Leech Street.
Iron Roller Makers.
Andrew and Hilton, Wagstaffe Street.
Milburn, Hallsworth and Co., Back Grosvenor Street.
Broadbent, Robert, Castle Hall Steam Saw Mills.
Lawton, Thomas, Bennett Street.
Milburn, Hallsworth and Co., Back Grosvenor Street.
Wilkinson, James, Copley Mills.
Engineers and Millwrights.
Dean and Tinker, Eagle Foundry.
Gimson, Yates and Ainsworth, Stayley Ironworks.
Wainwright, Benjamin, Commercial Ironworks.
EARLY COTTON MASTERS 65
Rapid Growth of the Town — Statistics of Population — Number
of Mills— Prosperity of the Cotton-Masters — List of Mansions, &c.
" When I was a boy some elderly personages with whom I was acquainted
were kind enough to describe to me events .... and the stories I
then heard have made a lasting impression upon me."
William Harrison Ainsworth.
The Trade Disturbances of 1830-31— The Remedy — List of
Special Constables — Precautions.
" And may not, .... men with honest pride, confess that in the records
of the good old town, there are to be found examples worthy
of imitation in all succeeding ages."
James Crosion, F.S.A.
The Rising of the Chartists — The People's Charter— The
Pike Maker — "The Parson and the Pike."
mHE reliable accounts of the town and its advance-
ment are as follows : — "In 1814 there were
nearly twelve factories ; in 18 18 they had increased
to about sixteen. During the first twenty years of the
present century (1800- 1820) the excellent position of
Staley-Bridge, with all its advantages of fuel and facilities
of conveyance were duly appreciated ; so that the town
became larger every year ; the streets multiplied rapidly ;
houses started into existence as if by magic ; extensive
factories reared their massive walls ; and the site of the
woods of Staley became a flourishing town."
The population of Stalybridge in 1823 is recorded as
5,500 persons. In the course of the succeeding two
years (1824-5) there was a most extraordinary increase,
partially owing to the settlement of a considerable
66 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
number of Irish families, who were attracted hither
by the prospect of better wages than were to be
obtained in their own country. In 1825 the population
appears to have been at least 9,000.
In 183 1 a census was taken within the limits of the
Police Commissioners, the returns being as follows : —
Total number of persons, 14,216 (males 6,625, females
7,591) inhabited houses, 2,357 '> families, 2,629 ; families
employed in trade, 1,949 ; families employed in agricul-
ture, 23 ; in other occcupations, 657 ; males over 20
years of age, 2,976 ; men employed as labourers, excava-
tors, builders, etc., 1,997.
The statement published by one historian is to the
effect that in the space of 92 years, viz., from 1749 to
1841, the population of Stalybridge increased from 140
In 1836 the number, condition, religion, and other
matters in connection with the inhabitants of Staly-
bridge were ascertained by a statistical surve}-, under
the guidance and supervision of the Manchester Statis-
tical Society, which resulted as follows : — Population,
17,200. Number of dwelhngs examined, 3,313 — viz.,
houses, 2,587 ; sitting-rooms, 670 ; cellars, 56 ; old
public-houses, 29 ; beer-shops, 10. Persons living in
houses, 12,345 ; living in rooms, 670 ; living in cellars
56 ; persons able to read and write, 4,484 ; able to read
only, 4,188. Heads of families. Church of England, 769 ;
lodgers of same persuasion, 95. Heads of families,
dissenters, 917 ; lodgers of same persuasion, 169, Heads
EARLY COTTON MASTERS 67
of families, Catholics, 455 ; lodgers of same persuasion,
436. Heads of families of other beliefs, 1,174 ; lodgers of
same persuasion, 588.
A communication of the Rev. J. F. Anderton, Roman
Catholic Priest, dated August, 1840, gives the numbers
of the Catholic population within the police limits of
Stalybridge as follows : Total number of individuals,
3.365 ; oi whom 2,184 were upwards of thirteen years
In 1841 the population of Stalybridge was estimated
as being between 20,000 and 21,000, the increase in the
preceding ten years being nearly 7,000.
1823 No. of Spinning Mills and Loom Mills 26
No. of Spindles 200,000
1825 No. of Spinning Mills exclusive of
Loom Mills 22
Steam Engines 29
No. of Spindles in the Town 354o8o
No. of Power Looms in the Town . . 2,470
1831 Steam Engines, about 38 [ aggregate
Several Water-wheels ]horse-power[ -^'^^^
1833 Net earnings of 8,542 operatives in
Stalybridge and Dukinfield, £19,409 7s. 6M
Average per head, per week 13s. 6d,
1841 Number of Spindles in the Town . . 536,000
Power Looms 5, 000
The prosperity of the cotton-masters was apparent
in the noble mansions which they erected on the out-
skirts of the town. A writer of the period (rather
68 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
a harsh critic one is inclined to think) thus refers
to them : — " As a body, the manufacturers are wealthy —
clever — and have extensive business connections, but
their political interest is the most feeble of that of all
branches of commercial industry, for they have allowed
their accumulated wealth to entomb them. They have
huge factory-like houses within the sound of their
machinery, dinners of puzzling variety, equipages, ser-
vants, everything of the costliest and best ; . . . .
but where are there any indications of a refined and
generous liberality? The yearly stagnation of their
incomes generates nothing but a noxious desire to have
a higher chimney or a bigger mill than their neighbours."
The following list of mansions and family residences
may be of interest : —
Eastwood, George Cheetham
Hyde's House, Joseph Bayley
Kelsall House, Jeremiah Lees
Vaudrey House, Thomas Vaudrey
Stamford Lodge, John Lees
Hob Hill House, John OrreU
Albion House, James Bayley
House (corner of King Street), George Cheetham
The Woodlands, Charles C. Bayley
House, Bowling Green, James Hall
Woodfield, Rev. Thos. Evans
Thompson Cross, Thomas Harrison
Acres Bank, James Adshead
West Hill, William Harrison
The W^ood, Millbrook, George Adshead
TRADE DISTURBANCES 69
Highfield, Abel Harrison
Brookfield, James Wilkinson
Gorse Hall, John Leech
Park Hill, James Howard
The Priory, David Cheetham
Heyrod Hall, Ralph Ousey.
In the autumn of 1830, a serious strike amongst the
operative classes, for increased wages, prevailed in this
district. It is referred to by those who have heard their
parents tell about it as the '' Four - and - twopence
a swing." To such an extent did the excitement
grow that military aid was sought, and the men
were quartered in certain mills in the neighbourhood.
The " Police Commissioners," however, were alive to
the danger, and forthwith prepared for any emergency
which might arise. The records of the period give
the following information :— December loth, 1830.—
Ordered that five dozen Constable's Staves be provided
for the use of Special Constables."
" In consequence of the present disturbed state of
this town and neighbourhood, it is become highly
necessary to increase the Civil force forthwith."
" Ordered that twelve able-bodied men be engaged
as Assistant Constables for the day, and that a night
patrol of thirty-six men be immediately established."
It was now a well-known fact that bands of hired
assassins were nightly lurking in the vicinity of the
70 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
mills, ready to wreak vengeance on their victims. The
magistrates of the district were requisitioned to sit or
hold a bench in Stalybridge " as soon as possible."
A resolution of December 17th, 1830, contains the
following : " That a letter be sent to the magistrates
requesting them to direct the public-houses to be closed
at an early hour in the evening in consequence of the
disturbed state of the town and neighbourhood."
December 31st. — '' That twelve Watchman's Boxes
be forthwith provided and fixed in such situations
within the town as the committee for managing the
night patrol shall appoint."
" That eighteen Watchmen's Rattles be provided."
The excitement was intense ; gun-shots were heard
during the dead of night, first on one side of the town
and then on the other.
A special contingent of honorary constables was
organised to the number of 120, each man chosen being
LIST OF HEAD CONSTABLES, DEPUTY CON-
STABLES, ASSISTANT CONSTABLES AND
on duty during the Trade Disturbances, December ,1830,
and January, 1831.
Mr. James Bayley, Mr. Jeremiah Lees, and Mr. Abel
TRADE DISTURBANCES 7I
Deputy Constable — ^Mr. Edward Garside.
Assistant Constables and Special Constables.
John Van drey
Thomas Wild, senr
George Piatt, junr,
Benj . Wainwright
John Hey wood
George Piatt, senr.
Assistant Constables and Special Constables — Continued,
Latimer Finn Thomas Burkett Samuel Buckley
James Stanslield Jonath'n Kershaw James Fogg
James Crossley G. F. Cheetham James Hill
David Cheetham RobertWhitehead George Devonport
Thomas Blakeley James Roecliffe John Chadwick
John Williamson John Buckley
RobertWhitehead Joshua Wood
James Burton Hugh Ashton
Scarcely had these precautions been taken in Staly-
bridge when a dastardly crime was committed in the
immediate vicinity. On the 3rd of January, 1831, as
Mr. Thomas Ashton, cotton master, was returning
home from the mill at Apethorn, near Gee Cross, he
was deliberately waylaid and murdered in cold blood.
The assassins escaped, and for a long period, in spite of
a reward of £1,500, remained unknown. At length one
of them, for they numbered three, turned informer,
and his two companions in crime perished on the gallows.
The firmness of the Stalybridge Police Commissioners
at this critical period produced its effect. A duty-book
used by the patrol is in existence, and contains many
significant entries. The excitement abated, and the
operatives returned to their work in the mills. On the
TRADE DISTURBANCES 73
iith February, 1831, the following was written : " That
the night patrol be reduced to twenty men." A week
later an addition was made thus : " That the whole of
the men employed as night patrol be discharged on
Saturday next, and the said night patrol be discontinued
in consequnece of the peaceable state of the town and
The Chartists .were a body of reformers recruited
mainly from the operative classes of the cotton
manufacturing districts. Their leaders have been
described by the records which deal with the movement
in detail, as follows : — " Feargus O'Connor, a man
of wild recklessness, and Joseph Rayner Stephens, . .
. . . a fanatic, who possessed a great command of
language and great power of declamation."
The objects for which the Chartists agitated were
known as '' The People's Charter," and were as follows :
" 1st, Universal Suffrage ; 2nd, Vote by Ballot ; 3rd,
Annual Parhaments ; 4th, the Division of the County
into equal Electoral districts ; 5th, the abolition of the
property qualification in Members of Parliament, and
payment for their services." The Chartists had a
newspaper, which was established by Feargus O'Connor.
To such an extent did the organisation grow that they
defied all authority, and marched in procession through
the district with flaming torches, banners, and firearms.
On the 14th November, 1838, a great meeting was held
at Newton Moor. Mr. Stephens was present, and for
74 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
the speech which he made on that occasion he was
arrested, and subsequently tried at the Chester Assizes,
August 15th, 1839. A f^ll account of the trial (once the
property of the writer) may be seen in the Ashton-under-
Lyne Free Library. In passing the sentence of eighteen
months' imprisonment upon Mr. Stephens, the learned
Judge, Mr. Justice Pattison, said: " .... I am
very sorry to have to pass sentence upon any person
of your talent and ability, and of your education."
On his release from prison he came back to Stalybridge
and was the recipient of a testimonial as follows : —
" To the Reverend Joseph Rayner Stephens, who, for
maintaining, in perilous times, the cause of the poor,
suffered eighteen months' imprisonment in Chester
Castle, this cup (with accompanying tea service for
Mrs. Stephens) was presented by admiring and devoted
friends in Stalybridge."
A local blacksmith did a roaring trade during the
existence of the agitation by manufacturing and supply-
ing pikes to the Chartists. He had agents in all the
disaffected districts, through whom he received com-
missions and supplied orders.
The Government of the time, it is said, passed a Bill
through both houses in the course of a single evening
making it a crime to be found in possession of these
weapons. As soon as the news reached this district
thousands of pikes met a watery grave in the Tame and
elsewhere ; while for years after it was customary for
the local gardeners, when delving their ground up in
TRADE DISTURBANXES 75
the spring of the year, to disinter the half-rusted blade
of some hidden and forgotten pike.
The ballad of " The Parson and the Pike," which was
sung through the streets of the town, and of which there
are still copies in existence, deals with a certain clergy-
man who is named, and a Chartist tailor. The tailor
was visited by the " Parson," who, in the heat of his
loyalty, thought to trap the " Knight of the Thimble
and Pike," and hand him over to justice.
A " pike " was ordered, and in the course of a few
days the clergyman called for it, and, having had the
parcel handed to him, he paid the price due, left the
shop, and proceeded to the police ofhce, where he laid
the " pike before the constable." Instant arrest of the
tailor was advocated by the " Parson." The constable
decided that the parcel should first be opened, when a
" stale, stinking pike-fish, was discovered " ; the
" Parson " was not in the best of tempers when he found
that he had been tricked by the tailor. The verses
are too lengthy, otherwise they would have appeared
in these pages.
THE "'42" TURN-OUT.
The great " Turn-out" of 1842 commenced in Bridge
Street, Stalybridge. It is an acknowledged fact that
this vale of ours has always been a battle-ground
for the settlement of disputes connected with the
76 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The origin of this dispute is said to have had its birth
amongst a class of spinners who were known as "Crashers"
who worked on jennies of '' twelve dozens," and " the
power-loom weavers," who were to be the first to suffer a
reduction of wages. Meetings were held, and a resolution
passed by a vast assemblage of operatives, " That all
labour should cease throughout Lancashire, Cheshire,
Yorkshire, and Derbyshire." A compromise was sought
by the hands, but was not listened to. The struggle
commenced on the first Friday in August, 1842. The
excited operatives held meetings on the Saturday and
Sunday, and doubtless the presence of the inevitable
" Firebrands " helped the smouldering embers to blaze
forth. Monday morning came, and with it the " Turn-
outs " marched in procession to Ashton and stopped all
the mills, by what has been termed " plug- drawing."
The railway system was in its infancy in this neighbour-
hood, and the '' turn-outs " even went so far as to
tamper with the locomotives.
'' A fair day's wage for a fair day's work " became the
cry of the excited people. Riots took place at Ashton,
Stockport, Oldham, Blackburn, etc., etc., and in some
cases the military had to be sent for, and the " mob "
was even fired upon.
One resolution passed by the Stalybridge men was to
this effect, and it was communicated to the officer in
command of the soldiers in this district : " That if a
sword was drawn upon them, or a musket fired at them,
each man would return home and set fire to his own
TRADE DISTURBANCES *]"]
After a period of six weeks, after a struggle and fight,
of which old tongues still tell, the operatives were glad
to yield and return to their work, poorer, humbler,
sadder, and it is to be hoped wiser men. Many of them
had to suffer for this in after days, and several of the
ringleaders were sent across the seas to Van Dieman's
Land, and under compulsion left their country for their
The Cotton " Panic," its Cause and Effect.
The War Cloud of 1S52-3-4 — 57 — "The Cotton Supply Associ-
ation," John Cheatham, Esq. — Early Cotton Imports — Comparative
Prices, Returns, and Wages on the eve of the "Cotton Panic."
" The Angel of Death is abroad, we can almost feel the beating of his wings."
V^i/HE outbreak of the Crimean War and its
^^J continuance through the years 1852-3-4, had a
very serious effect upon this district. Many young
men were hu"ed from their situations in the various
manufactories by the gay ribbons of the recruiting
sergeants, with their glowing accounts of the hfe and
prospects in store for those w^ho accepted the " Queen's
Shilhng." The patriotic spirit which seems inherent
in the blood of the natives of this valley asserted itself
and numbers of young men enlisted at the locai Depot,
and were rapidly passed through the stages of their
preliminary training. The annals ol " The Alma,"
" Sebastopol," and " The Storming of the Redan,"
contain the names of many worthy sons of Stalybridge.
" PANIC MEMORIES 79
The termination of hostilities in the Crimea was
followed by the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, in
1857, whilst minor wars in various parts of the world
continued to disturb the commerce of England.
In 1857 ^ number of representative cotton manufac-
turers and merchants formed a society known as " The
Cotton Supply Association." Our illustrious townsman,
the late John Cheetham, Esq., M.P., was the president
of that association. The scheme had its inception " in
the prospective fears of a portion of the trade that some
dire calamity must inevitably, sooner or later, overtake
the cotton manufacture of Lancashire, whose vast
superstructure had so long rested upon the treacherous
foundation of restricted slave-labour as the main source
of supply for its raw material."
The thinking men of the time who formed this barrier
against a failure of supply were not supported by the
capitalists as they ought to have been.
The society sent out its pioneers, and established
agencies for the purpose of introducing cotton-growing
in the following countries : — Turkey, Italy, Egypt, Spain,
Portugal, Australia, the Brazils, South America, etc.,
and distributed large consignments of cotton seeds.
Preparatory machinery, viz., cotton gins, and other
appliances, were despatched in large quantities. From a
report issued by the association in 1862 we glean that
" a prize of from £30,000,000 to ;f 40,000,000 per annum
is at the present moment offered by the trade of Lanca-
shire, to be competed for by all nations capable of
growing cotton." The experiences of recent years, in
8o bygonp: stalybridge
addition to those of " the Cotton Panic," have given
proof of the foresight of the founders and promoters of
the now almost forgotten " Cotton Supply Association "
For the use of those who are largely interested in the
principal trade of Stalybridge, and who may not be able
to find time to hunt up old records in connection with
the cotton trade, the following may be worth notice : —
" Until the year 1788 the supply of cotton for the
manufacturers of Manchester and district was derived
principally from the West Indies, and Lancaster was
the principal English port through which it passed to
the consumer. Soon after that time the States of North
America, and our own settlements in the East, began to
export cotton to this country."
The Cotton imports into Liverpool for the year 1770
according to William Enfield in his " History of Liver-
poole," published in 1770, were as follows: —
Antigua, 168 bags Continent
Barbadoes, 459 bags of America :
Dominique, 705 bags New York, 3 bales
Granada, 1,083 bags Virginia, 4 bags
Jamaica, 1,775 bags North Carolina, 3 barrels
St. Kits, 100 bags Georgia, 3 bags
Montserrat, 178 bags
Tartola, 949 bags
St. Vincent, 610 bags
Total, 6,027 bags Total, 7 bags, 3 barrels, 3 bales
"PANIC" MEMORIES 8l
On the eve of the outbreak of the American War the
weekly consumption of cotton in this country was
East and West Indian, 3,461 bags ;
Brazihan or Egyptian, 3,968 bags ;
American, - - 41,094 bags.
The value of the cotton consumed in the United
Kingdom in i860 was estimated at £33,520,919.
In 1784 the value of lib. of No. 42's yarn was los. iid.
,, i860 ,, ,, ,, ,, iid.
,, 1786 ,, ,, „ lOo's „ £1 i8s.
„ i860 ,, „ ,, ,, 2s. 6d.
,, 1760 the Dock Dues at Liverpool were £2,330.
„ i860 „ „ „ „ £444.417-
The period of prosperity experienced by the cotton
masters of Stalybridge saw the inauguration of
better wages for the operatives, and hence a larger
circulation of money in the town. The hours of labour
were reduced, better machinery was introduced, and the
importance of education began to be considered. A
comparison of the weekly earnings of the operatives,
as given by a reliable authority, is very interesting :
£ s. d. / s. d.
Spinner i 3 6 .. i 9 o
Big Piecer o 12 o . . o 13 o
Little Piecer o 6 6 .. o 9 o
Lap Machine Tenter o 12 o 14s. to o 17 o
Card Strippers and Grinders . . o 12 o i8s. to i 00
Roving Frame Tenter 9 o .. on 6
Slubbing Frame Tenter 9 .. on 6
Drawing Frame Tenter o 9 .. on o
82 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
In 1844 the operatives worked 72 hours per week,
while in i860, the time had been reduced to 60 hours
The " Cotton Panic" and its cause — John Brown — President
Lincoln— Local Manufacturers and the War— Commencement of
the Blockade — Confederate Bonds — The Blockade-Runners —
" In Sixty-one the war beRan,
In Sixty-two 'twas halfway through ;
In Sixty-three the niggers were free,
In Sixty-four the war was o'er."— Yankee Ballad.
\^L*HE cause of the "Panic" was the failure of
\itf the supply of cotton from the United States of
America. Lancashire mills were dependent mainly
upon that source for the material required, and the
outbreak of hostilities between the Northern and
Southern States of the American Republic completely
stopped the shipment of cotton from that country to
The Civil War, as it was termed, was the result of a
division of the United States on the question of " eman-
cipation " of the slaves of the great cotton plantations
of the South. In 1859, John Brown, a stern believer in
the equality of the black and white, made a raid into
Virginia in connection with his scheme for the liberation
of the slaves. For his share in the cause of humanity,
John Brown perished on the scaffold, on the site of
"PANIC" MEMORIES 83
which there stands to-day a magnificent statue to his
worth and memory, and the refrain of the old war-song
of the North hves to-day :
" John Brown's body hes a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul — goes marching on."
On the 4th March, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was
inaugurated President of the United States, the Con-
federacy, or Southern States, having made Jefferson
Davis their President.
On the 15th of April, President Lincoln called
for 70,000 troops, to which there responded 93,326
men. From that date the working classes of this
town began to suffer, many fine young fellows crossed
the western ocean, and not a few were included in
2,690,401 soldiers who eventually fought for the freedom
of the slave.
From April, 1861, until May, 1865, was the period of
hostilities in the States. On the 14th April, 1865,
President Lincoln was assassinated, and a month later
the cause he had at heart became the law of his country,
and slavery was abolished.
In the early summer of 1861, some of the local mills
began to run short time, and gradually trade grew
worse and worse, until want and starvation began to
throw their gaunt shadows over the whole district.
The memories of those times, as told by the veteran
operatives of to-day, would fill volumes of interesting
84 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The Confederate Government inaugurated a system
known as " The Cotton Loan." Money was borrowed
from the manufacturers in this district, and " made
payable in cotton at fivepence per pound,"
A clause in the agreement " restricted the trade to
vessels which carried a certain proportion of Confederate
bonds, which, being discharged in cotton, enabled them
to borrow again." By this practice, which was called
" Running the Blockade," there came into this country
in 1862, 71,750 bales of American cotton ; and in 1863,
Some years ago it was the lot of the author to be
acquainted with several daring '' Blockade Runners,"
who sailed from the port of Liverpool during this period.
The profits of this risky business were enormous ; the
penalty, if captured by the Federal Men-of-War, was
Many of the local manufacturers laughed at the idea
that the " Yankee War " would last more than a few
months, and the sympathy was considerably in favour
of the South. Vast sums of money were, it is asserted,
sent for the use and support of the " Confederate cause."
A few of the wiser employers and capitalists shook their
heads and silently awaited the result. The prices of
raw material began to rise as the Federals of the North
began to blockade the Southern ports. The Confederate
Government relied upon their belief, a belief which w^as
that of some of our own townsmen, that "Cotton was
King in England, and that the old country could not
" PANIC " MEMORIES 85
do without it, and would be forced in order to secure
its release to side with those who kept it prisoner."
The Southern States had with them experienced Generals
and unlimited monetary supplies when the critical
moment arrived for the commencement of hostilities.
It is gratifying to know that during the time that the
Civil War was raging the Americans sent for the relief
of the Lancashire operatives the sum of £1,333 5S- nd.
in money and about ;f27,ooo in provisions. A New York
merchant named George Griswold freighted his own
ship, bearing his own name, and paid the salaries of his
officers and sailors, and sent them across to the old
country with a cargo of provisions for the distressed
The commander of the ship was invited to Manchester
as the guest of the General Rehef Committee, and at a
dinner, presided over by the Mayor of Manchester
(Abel Heywood, Esq.), in replying to the assemblage
he said — " God grant that the war desolating our land
may soon be settled — that trade and commerce may
flourish once more — and that England and America
may ever extend the hand of good-fellowship to each
86 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
"Hard Times "—Ruin for the Masters— Suffering for the
Operatives — The Surat Weaver's Song — Bankruptcies.
" We 've had our troubles since, but none big enough to blot from
our minds the biggest of all."
IN 1861 the cotton operatives of Stalybridge little
dreamed of the struggles and privations which
in a very short time were to en^^elope them.
They were even busying themselves with the idea of
demanding an increase of wages. The masters, who
knew more of the true state of affairs than their work-
people, waited for a break in the threatening war-cloud,
which was spreading and over-shadowing the com-
mercial interests of the district. In March, 1861, a turn-
out of weavers for an advance of wages occurred at
several mills in the town. Suddenly the outbreak of
hostihties on the other side of the Atlantic paralysed
the trade of the district. The local mills began to run
short time, and as the sounds of strife and carnage
increased in the United States the busy hum of the
shuttle and the spindle grew fainter and fainter until
they gradually died away ; and the great hives of
industry, which for generations had thrilled with
activity, stood grim and silent.
Thousands of operatives, with willing hands, but
aching hearts, wandered listlessly through the district.
"panic" memories Sy
Before the distressed workpeople would seek help or
relief, hundreds of them endeavoured to eke out a living
in some fashion or other. Those who were musical —
and Staly bridge has always been noted for its musicians
— went into other districts and tried to earn something
by their vocal or instrumental talents.
A writer of the period thus refers to them: " Now,
when fortune has laid such a load of sorrow upon the
working people of -, it is touching to see so
many workless minstrels in humble life
They come singing in twos and threes, and sometimes
in more numerous bands, as if to keep one another in
countenance. Their faces are
sad, and their manners often singularly shamefaced
and awkward, but the careful observer would see at a
glance that these people were altogether unused to the
craft of the trained minstrel of the streets
Their clear, healthy complexions, though often touched
with pallor, their simple unimportunate demands, and
the general rusticity of their appearance show them to
" SuppHants who would blush
To wear a tattered garb, however coarse ;
Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth ;
Who ask with painful shyness, and refused
Because deserving, silently retire."
The winter of 1862-3 came and found 7,000 operatives
without employment in Stalybridge, and a vast number
only partially employed. The number of concerns in
the town at this period is given as 66, made up of 39
88 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
factories, 24 foundries and machine-shops, and 3
bobbin-turning shops. Only five of these estabhshments
were employed full-time. Many of the mill-owners
assisted their hands in various ways.
The pressure became keener as week after w^eek went
by, when finally a scheme of relief was formulated by
the country at large. Other nations and countries lent
their practical sympathy, and from all over the world
contributions poured in for the use of the suffering
cotton operatives of Lancashire. At one period it is
recorded that three-fourths of the operatives of Staly-
bridge were dependent upon the benevolence of a
generous people. In the midst of all this trouble and
want, a serious difference occurred between the
unemployed operatives and the local committee
appointed to distribute relief. An organised opposition
commenced, which eventually led to " The Bread Riots."
As a result of the intense distress which prevailed in
the town, when two years had elapsed, the population
There were in the town, in 1863, 750 empty houses
and shops, and it is recorded that property owners, who
could not expect to receive rent from their starving
tenants, were not ashamed to sweep the streets for the
Corporation in order to clear off their own liabilities for
rates and taxes. Operatives who had the means or
chance to emigrate to other countries did so, and it is
estimated that upwards of a thousand skilled men and
women left the town during the " Panic."
" PANIC " MEMORIES 89
At the commencement of the distress (1861) the
balance due to depositors in the " Savings Bank "
amounted to £92,122 9s., and the number of separate
deposits was 2,603.
A feature of this period was the outburst of the
thrilhng strains of the Laureate of the Cotton Panic,
Samuel Laycock. Week by week he produced his
cheering rhymes, some of which will live on so long as
the dialect is spoken. His " Surat Weaver's Song " is
full of pathos and humour, two verses of which are as
"Oh dear ! iv yon'd Yankees could only just see
Heaw they 're clammin' an' starvin' poor wayvers like me,
Aw think they 'd soon settle ther' bother, an' strive
For 't send us some cotton, to keep us alive.
Aw wish aw wur far enough off, eaut o' th' road,
For o' weivin this rubbitch, aw'm gettin' reet stowed,
Aw 've nowt i' this world to lie deawn on but straw,
For aw 've only eight shillin' this fortnit to draw."
Terrible indeed were the experiences of the working
classes in Stalybridge during those dark days, and the
effect ufon the manufacturers may be imagined from the
following return : —
The bankruptcies registered in the Court at Man-
chester, in the years 1861-4, were as follows : —
90 BYGONE STAIYBRIDGE
The future was obscured for the capitahsts, the
picture grew darker and darker, until even the most
sanguine lost heart. The financial interests which some
of our local magnates were said to have in the Confederate
cause vanished like chaff before the wind, until the
inevitable crash involved in its debris the ambitions
and fortunes of the speculators. " The cotton trade
had gone — never to return," the approach of ruin
became apparent, and the flower of local enterprise was
nipped in the bud beyond a possibility of recovery.
Clever, shrewd, gifted, and of undoubted business
capacity, their future prospects were closed ; they
bravely accepted and faced their positions, and calmly,
quietly — with unsubdued independency of spirit —
marched on to the end.
The Bread Riots — Arrival of the Hussars — Reading of the
Riot Act — Wholesale Arrests and Convictions — Arrival of Infantry
with fixed Bayonets — More Cavalry — The use of the Cutlass —
Meeting of Operatives— Settlement.
" Ere ye strike, my brethren pause,
Violence will never aid your cause."
Vj!/HE cause of the " Bread Riots " was the decision
\^^ of the " Relief Committee" to substitute a system
of " relief by ticket " instead of money. These tickets
were to be presented at the local grocers' shops, where
goods to the amount would be supplied.
" PANIC " MEMORIES QI
An organised resistance began, which culminated on
Friday, the 20th March, 1863, in the commencement
of one of the darkest pages in the town's history.
About three o'clock in the afternoon, a noisy crowd
gathered about the entrance to Mr. Bates's mill, in
Castle Street. A small force of poKce was present,
guarding the mill doors and endeavouring to keep order.
The crowd indulged in shouting, and jeered the police.
Eventually a stone was thrown which hit one of the
constables, who endeavoured to arrest the person who
had thrown it. In an instant a shower of missiles were
hurled at the police, who in their turn charged the mob.
Brickbats, stones, and other articles were thrown, and
several prisoners who had been captured were rescued,
and the police driven from the place.
The mob now made for the residence of Mr. Bates,
on Cocker Hill, "where the windows were smashed and
the furniture broken by stones
Mrs. Bates (Mr. Bates's mother) lay ill in bed, and the
assault upon her house hastened, if it did not cause, her
Another section of the rioters visited the " Relief
Stores," near the Welhngton Inn, Carohne Street,
where they smashed the windows and looted the build-
ings. " Not satisfied with these appropriations, some
villain made an attempt (happily unsuccessful) to
fire the premises."
The vivid accounts which our townsmen still give of
the affair have lost none of their detail by the lapse of
92 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The alarm had been given, and after a lapse of about
two hours, a shout rent the air: 'The soldiers are coming,"
followed by the clattering of the hoofs of a troop of
Hussars from Manchester. The police, under the cover
of the soldiers, arrested many of the ringleaders at once,
and before the night was over about eighty prisoners
had been taken to the Town Hall.
The Mayor, Dr. Hopwood, together with David
Harrison Esq., J. P., accompanied the military, The
latter gentleman read the Riot Act, amidst the yells
and jeers of the mob.
On the Saturday morning, the eighty prisoners were
brought before the magistrates, and twenty-nine of
them were committed to Chester for trial. Warning
placards were posted on the walls of the town calhng
attention to the fact that the Riot Act had been read,
yet the removal of the prisoners from the Town Hall to
the Railway Station caused a renewal of the disturbance.
Again the cavalry were to the fore, and the mob stoned
them as they galloped through the streets. The repre-
sentatives of the discontents sent a deputation to the
Mayor, who asked them to wait until the following
Monday. This was not sufficient, and from five o'clock
until seven in the evening the town was in the hands of
a reckless mob. The police were stoned whenever they
appeared, but the soldiers were getting angry, and the
rioters saw it, hence whenever the Hussars showed
themselves the sight of their sabres was quite enough.
At half-past eleven at night a company of Infantry
arrived, and marched through the streets with bayonets
" PANIC MEMORIES 93
fixed, and about the same time another troop of cavalry
rode into the town, but their active services were not
needed ; the rioters kept good hours, and had retired for
On the Sunday the streets were filled with people
from the neighbouring towns and villages. The rioters
did not appear.
Monday morning came, and rumours of further
trouble began to be heard. About one o'clock the
disturbances commenced again, the scene being Stanley
Square, and the police made a charge with drawn
cutlasses, blood being shed. The sight of blood had a
great effect upon the mob, and the police led off their
On Tuesday, the 24th March, a great meeting was
held on the Plantation Ground (where the Market Hall
now stands), a chairman was appointed, and a deputa-
tion elected to wait upon the Mayor, requesting him to
give them relief in money instead of tickets. The Mayor
promised to give them his reply at one o'clock.
At that hour a concourse of three thousand starving
operatives stood waiting for a reply.
The chairman said that the Mayor's answer was that
" it was no longer a question of tickets or money, but
of mastership," and they were advised to return to
their various schools. The general opinion was that the
Mayor and Mr. J. Cheetham, M.P., would take up their
cause, and that the ticket system would not last long.
The men looked at each other, and the upshot was
that " a resolution to return to the schools and accept
94 BYGOxN'E STALYBRIDGE
tickets for the past and present weeks was unanimously
adopted." With the passing of that resolution a light
succeeded the gloom which had been present on three
thousand faces. Men shook hands with each other, and
the chairman, who stood in a cart which had acted as
platform, addressed the meeting something like the
following : " Now, my lads, in th' Houses of Parliament
it 's awlus a law that th' majority rules ; so let it be wi'
us. All of yo' go to yo 're schools, and let no man be
missing when th' names are called i'th' morning." The
crowd broke up amidst shouts of " Hurrah !" " Bravo !"
" Th' riot 's done," &c. A group of girls who had been
at the meeting, met some soldiers loitering in the street,
and one of them, clapping one of the Hussars on the
shoulder, said " Aye, owd chap, theau con go whoam ;
th' riot 's done."
" PANIC " MEMORIES 95
The Central Executive Relief Committee, Manchester, and
the Operatives of Stalybridge — The Sewing Classes and Schools
— The Return of " King Cotton" — The memorable 27th June,
1864 — " Hard times come again no more' — Cotton Return, Feb-
ruary 7th, 1865.
" The darkest hour is on the verge of day."
John Critchley Prince.
HE following address was printed, issued and posted
on the walls in Stalybridge, March 27, 1863 :^
" The Central Executive Relief Committee at Manchester,
"To THE Operatives of Stalybridge and
" We have been entrusted with large funds for the
relief of distress, and we are distributing them with every
sympathy for your wants, and with every care for your
welfare : those funds cannot be claimed by any par-
ticular district, but are to be given where we think it
best, taking into consideration distress, good behaviour,
and local circumstances generally.
" We deplore the disturbances which have recently
occurred. We hope they are not shared in by a large
number. If they are continued, we know that there
are many elsewhere who will gratefully receive all we
can afford them ; and the Boards of Guardians, the
ordinary channels of relief, are always open to others.
96 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
" We therefore appeal to all among you who value
our relief, to aid us in our wish to continue it to you.
We beg you, consequently, to avoid and discourage
meetings which may lead to disturbances, and to assist,
to the utmost of your power, the local authorities and
others, whose duty is the preservation of order for the
good of all.
" We deeply sympathise in your distress ; none of us
know how long it will last. W^e must, therefore, be
prudent in distributing that relief which the generosity
of the public has given, but which disturbance will cause
to cease. Unless order is duly preserved, matters must
pass from our hands into those of the constituted
authorities of the country.
" Signed for the Committee,
" James P. Kay Shuttleworth,
*'JoHN William Maclure,
" Honorary Secretary.
The ladies of Stalybridge rendered excellent service
in connection with the various sewing-classes which
were organised for the female operatives.
It may be interesting to know that during this period
Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone visited the town, and were the
guests of Robert Piatt, Esq. Mrs. Gladstone went to
several of the sewing-classes, and expressed surprise and
"panic" memories 97
delight at the excellent needlework and knitting done
by the scholars. Mr. Gladstone went through some of
the schools where the male operatives were being taught.
A writer of the time deals with the school system as
follows : — ■" The disciplinary work, mental or physical,
found by relief committees for their dependents answered
very well until the novelty had worn off, and then it
became almost as unsatisfactory as pauper or prison-
labour The natural and almost in-
evitable consequence was, that men worked not as at a
task for the accomplishment of which they would be
rewarded according to their exertions, but listlessly,
waiting like tired children at school for the hour of
dismissal ; knowing that the connection between the
work done and the relief-wages to be procured was not a
natural but a forced relationship — a make-believe, which
produced no sympathy, and therefore no fruitful result."
THE RETURN OF KING COTTON.
In the early months of 1864 a perceptible return
of trade was apparent. The Northern States had
got the upper hand, the cause of the South was
doomed. As a finale to his brilliant record. President
Lincoln called on the i8th July, 1864, for 500,000
Volunteers, for i, 2, or 3 years' service, to which there
responded 204,568 men, a large number being of
Lancashire extraction. The operatives of Stalybridge
had friends and relatives fighting beneath the flag of the
Union, and even to this day there are in the town
several grey-haired veterans who are in receipt of well-
98 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
earned recognition from the American Government
for their services under the " Star-spangled Banner."
The newspapers of those days are full of communica-
tions from the battle-fields. By degrees the engines and
machinery of several mills were overhauled, ready for
the cotton, when it came. The spring of 1864 came and
went, summer had arrived, when the people of Staly-
bridge became aware of the fact that once again King
Cotton was on his way.
For a period of two years scarcely a bale had entered
the town, when on the 27th of June, 1864, a waggon-
load of cotton passed through the streets on its way to
Old men, strong young fellows, and little children
followed the vehicle as it passed along with its valuable
freight, and by the time it neared its destination a pro-
cession had formed. The climax was reached when the
lurry arrived at the top of Knowl Street. The women
from the village of North-end had sallied forth to meet
the welcome material, and in their impetuosity would
have taken the horses from the shafts and dragged the
The elders, however, persuaded them otherwise, and
amidst cheers and shouts the lurry passed along. The
women would not be denied the exhibition of their joy
and delight, for a clothes-prop was obtained on which
a large coloured handkerchief was fastened, and then
fixed on the top of the cotton bales.
" PANIC MEMORIES 99
The news spread like wildfire, and hundreds of
operatives visited North - end Mill, to see if the in-
formation was correct.
During the day the excitement increased until faces
that had not smiled for many weary months, and hearts
that had been long sad, became merry for a little while.
Singing was heard in many cottage homes that night,
and as for the residents of North-end, it is not recorded
whether they retired to rest that evening or not.
In the course of few days other consignments of cotton
arrived at various mills, and their unloading was cele-
brated in homely fashion. In one part of the town the
women organised a " tay-party," and as the celebration
wore on, and the shadows fell, from many of the cottage
interiors there were heard issuing the strains of the then
familiar song :
" Many days you have linger'd around my cabin door,
Oh! hard times, hard times, come again no more. "
Note. — ^The increase in the supply of American Cotton,
and the decrease in the imports from the East
Indian, Chinese, and Japanese growers was apparent
immediately the war terminated, as foreshadowed by
the following quotation.
" In the Manchester Guardian, February 7th, 1865, the
weekly deliveries of cotton from Liverpool are given as
under : —
First four weeks
First four weeks
1,560 . .
Brazil . .
1,500 . .
3,940 . .
410 . .
10,230 . .
The Religious History of the Town in brief.
Old St. George's. Cocker Hill - St. Paul's, Stayley— St.
George's, The Hague— Holy Trinity Church— St. James' Church,
Millbrook-Christ Church-Chapel Street School— The People's
School— The Wesleyans-The General Baptists-The Ebenezer
Baptists. Cross Leech Street— Heyrod Union Sunday School-
The Primitive Methodists— The Congregationalists— The ^letho-
dist New Connexion Chapel-St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church
-United Methodist Free Church-The Unitarians-The Gospel
Mission Hall, Kay Street.
I am fond of loitering about country churches
. I do not
pretend to be what is called a devout man, but there are feelings that
visit me in a country church which I experience nowhere else ; and
if not a more religious, I think I am a better man on Sunday, than
on any other day of the seven." Washington Irving.
mHE natives of Stalybridge in bygone times
worshipped at the ancient churches of Ashton-
under-Lyne and Mottram, within whose burial grounds
will be found many weather and foot-worn memorials
bearing local names. There is little trace of any place
of worship having existed here prior to the inauguration
of St. George's Church. A local tradition says that a
102 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Moravian Settlement was located at Rassbottom prior
to the advent of that body at Dukinfield. A noted
family named Swanwick, who were Moravians, gave
their name to Swanwick Clough.
OLD ST. GEORGE'S, COCKER HILL.
The origination of this church dates from the 24th
October, 1772, when a Requisition and Promissory
Deed was drawn up and duly signed. This document
is not mentioned either in Aiken or Butterworth. The
writer obtained a copy of the deed several years ago,
and Captain Bates recently discovered the original
parchment, which he generously restored to the
representatives of the church, where it may now be seen.
The first church was erected in 1776, but being
defective, collapsed on the 15th May, 1778. The
second building is the one which is still remembered,
and was closed as being unsafe for public worship,
about Christmas time, 1882. The present church was
erected on the same site, and was opened on the 21st
The ancient burial ground was formerly surrounded
by a low parapet wall with fiat coping stones, upon
which many of our now aged townspeople scampered
and played in bygone times. This practice was put
a stop to, and the privacy of the old sepulchres ensured,
when Robert Piatt, Esq., at his sole cost, erected the
iron palisading now existing. The ashes of many
well-known families rest within the stony bosom of
RELIGIOUS HISTORY IO3
the old graveyard. The ancestors of the Platts, the
Halls, the Walton-Mellors, and the Masons, were
buried here. The graves of Bradbury, the father of
the explorer, of the Whiteheads, and the Taylors may
be noticed, whilst the dust of musicians, lawyers, cotton
masters, and innkeepers now mingles, under the foot
of the visiting pilgrim.
Inside the church are numerous memorials to the
memory and worth of departed townspeople and past
vicars. The register of births and deaths contains
much valuable data, from the year 1777. The cost of
the present church is recorded as about ;f5,ooo, and
the organ over ;f700.
The list of past vicars and curates includes the
names of —
I Rev. John Kenworthy 2 Rev. J. Cape-Atty
3 Rev. I. N. France 4 Rev. J. E. Leeson
5 Rev. J. B. Jelly-Dudley, B.A.
The present vicar is the Rev. Herbert Hampsou'
M.A. Excellent Day and Sunday Schools exist in
connection with the church.
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, STAYLEY.
This Parish was formed from the Parish of Mottram-
in-Longdendale about 1837. The site on which the
church was erected was given by the Earl of Stamford
A list of subscribers with the various amounts is in
existence, from which we quote the principal donations,
as follows : —
James Wilkinson.... £200
Robert Piatt ^^200
William Harrison, .;fioo
David Harrison . . . £100
John Wagstaffe . . .£100
Ralph Hall £100
Aaron Adshead . . ./loo
David Cheetham . . £50
John Leech £50
John Cheetham . . £50
John Lees £100
Wm. Bayley & Bros. £50
James Adshead . ./200
Lord Stamford . .£200
Abel Harrison . . . /loo
George Adshead .£100
James Hall £100
James Bayley. . . ./loo
The Misses Evans £100
James Buckley . .£150
William Lees . . . .£100
Ralph Howard . ./102 los.
James Howard . . £70
Rev. Mr. Evans . £50
William Bardsley. £50
The foundation stone of the church was laid February
2nd, 1838 ; the building was completed and con-
secrated October 9th, 1839. The first services were
conducted by the Rev. Mr. Evans, prior to the arrival
of the Rev. W. W. Hoare. A fine peal of bells and a
clock were placed in the tower of the church in 1851.
The church was enlarged in 1874, when the following
handsome sums were given towards the cost : —
Thomas Harrison, Esq. £850 James Buckley, £800
J.J. Wilkinson, Esq. £630 Ralph Bates, Esq. £500
The vicars since the church's formation have been
RELIGIOUS HISTORY IO5
as follows : —
Rev. W. W. Hoare, B.D., 1840-1869.
Rev. J. M. Cranswick, D.D., 1869-1880.
Rev. Canon R. H. Brown, M.A., 1880-1887.
Rev. T. H. Sheriff, M.A., 1887-
The church contains many beautiful memorial
windows and tablets. The register dates from 1842.
The organ cost £1,800, and the total cost of the church
is estimated at £12,000. There is in existence a very
well written and detailed account of the rise and progress
of this church.
ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH, THE HAGUE.
This church was built, and consecrated July 30th,
1840, and its cost is recorded as £6,000, its organ costing
an additional £700. Formerly there was a gallery in
the building, which was taken down some years ago.
The church was restored in 1885, and re-seated in
1889. There is ample seating accommodation for a
congregation of 1,000 persons. Situated in one of
the pleasantest localities in the district, it is within
easy distance of its parishioners.
Within its walls are several beautiful memorials to
past worshippers, whilst in the confines of its burial
ground the visitor will notice numerous tributes to
bygone celebrities. The soldiers quartered at the local
depot formerly attended Divine service at this church,
I06 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
and a noticeable feature in the graveyard is a row of
grass-grown mounds beneath which he the remains
of many forgotten warriors.
The list of vicars at this church includes the following
names : —
I Rev. Isaac Newton France 2 Rev. W. Hale
3 Rev. J. E. Leeson 4 Rev. F. Leeson
5 Rev. J. H. KiUick. 6 Rev. H. J. Hutchinson
7 Rev. J. T. Read 8 Rev.T.M.01dfield,M.A.
Large and commodious Day and Sunday Schools
are attached to the church.
HOLY TRINLfY CHURCH.
The Parish of Castle Hall, or Holy Trinity, was
formed about the year 1846. Its first vicar, the Rev.
Thomas Floyd, B.A., was installed as incumbent in 1847.
The first meetings in connection with the church were
held in the cottage of Mrs. Simpson, in Back Grosvenor
Street. Temporary rooms w^ere afterwards obtained,
and services were held in the Foresters' Hall. The
foundation stone of the church was laid on Easter
Monday, 185 1, when a procession and other ceremonies
took place. The church w^as opened on the 27th June,
1852, and consecrated in the October following. The
executors of Miss Jane Cook, of Cheltenham, conveyed
to the benefice of Holy Trinity Church the handsome
sum of £1,666. Numerous gifts from various ladies
RELIGIOUS HISTORY IO7
and gentlemen are fully acknowledged in the well
written annals of the church.
In 1853 a fine peal of bells was placed in the tower,
the cost being £500, which was defrayed by voluntary
The excellent Day and Sunday Schools in connection
with this place of worship were completed in 1853.
The first vicar of Holy Trinity, the Rev. Thomas
Floyd, B. A., died on the 4th x\pril, 1875. His successor,
the Rev. Fielding Ould, died as the result of an accident,
October 17th, 188 1. The present vicar, the Rev.
Charles Sutcliffe, succeeded, and preached his first
sermon on Sunday, January i8th, 1882.
ST. JAMES' CHURCH, MILLBROOK.
St. James' Church, Millbrook, is an off-shoot of St.
Paul's, Stayley. The commencement of Church of
England work in the village was the opening of a branch
school by the Rev. Mr. Hoare, about the year 1848.
A substantial building was erected, and Day and Sunday
Schools established, services being held every Sunday
evening. In the early sixties a scheme for the erection
of a church was conceived, which obtained the sub-
stantial support of Abel Harrison, Esq., of Highfield
House, Stalybridge. Financial aid was forthcoming
and the proposed church became a reality.
I08 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
St. James' Church, Millbrook, was consecrated for
Divine Service on the 29th January, 1863, at which
time there was assigned to it a district as a separate
parish, the Rev. W. H. White being appointed as its
first vicar. He was succeeded by the Rev. Richard
Salkeld, who was afterwards followed by the present
vicar, the Rev. F. L. Farmer, M.A., now in the 26th
year of his stewardship.
The formation of this, the youngest church in the
town, was the act of a few working-men, who comm.enced
a School, and held meetings in a small room situated off
Quarry Street, Stalyb ridge. The project grew and
flourished until the School thus form.ed encouraged its
founders to aspire and to formulate a scheme by which
they might become possessed of a School building of
their own. A site was procured, plans were drawn,
and, eventually, their ideal became a reality.
The edifice was used as a School Church, and was
dedicated on the 19th April, 1873.
The first curate was the Rev. Charles Sutcliffe, who
was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Langbridge, who in his
turn was followed by the Rev. James Grant Bird, the
present Vicar, now in the 30th year of his work at this
RELIGIOUS HISTORY lOQ
The important dates in connection with this place of
worship are thus recorded : —
Foundation Stone of Church laid 23rd September, 1877.
Consecration Service, 21st May, 1879.
The cost of the Church was ;f3,500.
In the year 1882, and again in 1887, important enlarge-
ments and additions were made to the Schools.
The register dates from 1878. The seating accom-
modation is adequate for 800 persons.
The present satisfactory condition of this Church
and the Schools connected with it are a monument to
the energy, tact, and popularity of the present Vicar,
who has spent the very best years of his life in furthering
the welfare of his people and his flock.
The latest addition is a new Infant School, which
was erected at a cost of ;f 1,500, and opened in 1902.
CHAPEL STREET SCHOOL.
This School was originated by Robert Piatt and
Thomas Broadbent, in a very humble manner. These
men started their project — viz., that of forming a
Sunday School — " in a house in the wood," which was
situated at the top of Wood Street. A third person,
named Robert Kershaw, now joined the scheme, and
the idea flourished and grew until it became necessary
to migrate successively to other quarters — viz., a portion
no BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
of a smithy, belonging to John Lunn, in Harrop Street ;
Tongue's Garret, in Prow Street ; the garret above the
Hope and Anchor ; and eventually Judson's Assembly
Room, which was located above the " King's Head
Inn," then situate two doors from the Wheat Sheaf
Inn, King Street. On the erection of the Methodist
New Connexion Chapel in Rassbottom Street, in 1802,
the Sunday School went thither. The site on which
the chapel stood was sold to raise funds for a larger
building in Chapel Street.
On the 24th June, 1815, the foundation stone of the
new School was laid. At that time it was an undenomina-
tional school, but as the other religious bodies in the
town began to have their own schools, the Chapel
Street School became recognised as the property of the
New Connexionists, and in 1821 a Board of Trustees
was formed, composed of the following persons : — John
Higginbottom, James Harrop, Joseph Shepley, Joseph
Wrigley, William Wrigley, Robert Kershaw, John
Tongue, Nathaniel Buckley, John Nield, Joseph Knott,
John Schofield, John Howard, Thomas Lees, Abdiel
Berry, Joseph Tongue, Joseph Roberts, Joshua Piatt,
John Whitworth, Samuel Piatt, Daniel Saxon, James
Swallow, Neddy Shelmerdine, and Thomas Mason.
In the year 1845, a Jubilee of the formation of the
School was held, when a medal was presented to Mr.
Robert Kershaw, as the surviving founder, and for his
services in connection with the school. In 1856, another
Board of Trustees was formed, as follows : — ^Thomas
RELIGIOUS HISTORY III
Mason, Abdiel Berry, Samuel Piatt, lowerth Davis,
John Hilton, John Ashmore, R. Winterbottom, senr.,
R. Winterbottom, junr., Henry Birch, William Bright,
T. A. S. Saxon, George Blakeley, James Moore, Allen
Wilde, Samuel McQuire, Thomas Worth, R. P. Whit-
The present School was erected on the site of its
predecessor, the foundation-stone being laid by Thomas
Mason, Esq., of Audenshaw Hall, July, 1867, and
was opened by Hugh Mason, Esq., of Groby Lodge,
April i6th, 1868. The estimated cost was about
THE PEOPLE'S SCHOOL.
This building was erected by the friends, supporters,
and admirers of the Rev. Joseph Rayner Stephens,
about the year 1839. ^^ was intended for Divine Worship
and for Sunday School work, and was also used as a
Day School. Evening classes were held during the
week nights, and the School also became famous for
its periodical entertainments, known as " Dramatic
Recitals." The declining years of the founder, and
the thinning of the ranks of his followers by the hand
of death, caused the institution to wane. It was
ultimately acquired by the Holy Trinity Church, and
is now used as a Mission Hall in connection with that
place of worship, and has accommodation for 500
112 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The Wesleyans were in existence in Stalybridge as
a religious sect prior to the year 1800. From the time
when the Rev. John Wesley preached at Staley Hall,
December 7th, 1745, and again on Sunday, May nth,
1747, when he spoke, as is supposed, from Rassbottom
Cross, the village received regular visitations from
Wesleyan preachers. In 1762 there existed a Society
of Wesleyans, at Higham Fold, the site of which was
obliterated in the construction of Mellor Road.
In 1805 a Wesleyan Meeting Room existed near the
Angel Inn, Rassbottom, from whence the worshippers
went to " Holden's Garret," Cocker Hill. The first
Wesleyan Chapel, in Caroline Street, was opened in
1815, and enlarged in 1827 at a cost of ;f400. A branch
place of worship was formed on Cocker Hill, and a
suitable chapel built in 1864 in Blandford Street, then
known as Portland Street. This building was sold to
the Presbyterians in 1869, who used it for some years.
It is now known as Hartley Works, and is the property
of Messrs. Dawson and Co., Engineers. The present
Wesleyan Chapel, Caroline Street, was built in 1872, and
cost about £4,000. It contains an organ which cost £700.
The Sunday School was held first in the old chapel,
and appears to have been formed about 1820. In the
year 1825 the Canal Street School was built ; great
improvements and additions have been made in recent
There is a well written history of the local Wesleyans
in booklet form.
RELIGIOUS HISTORY II3
The date of the recorded establishment of the
Baptist denomination in Stalybridge is given as 1806,
when a Mr. Barker, who claimed to belong to the sect,
settled in the village. In the same year, he publicly
immersed nine people in the reservoir which supplied
the Old Woollen MiU, near the Pack Horse Inn, Old
Street. The services were held in a garret on Cocker
Hill at that time ; afterwards the worshippers removed
to a smithy near Rassbottom. The first chapel was
erected in 1819. It contained a gallery at one end. The
building is still in existence, being used at present as
a skip shop. In 1842, another chapel was built in
Cross Street, which was found to be in the direct line
of the railway. The chapel and graveyard were sold
to the Railway Company and demolished, the remains
being conveyed to the present burial ground at
The Baptists held services in the Foresters' Hall
for a time, until their present chapel, "Mount Olivet,"
was built. The Foundation Stone was laid June 25th,
1846. The opening services took place March 8th, 1848.
An organ was placed in the building in 1865, which cost
;f32o, succeeded in 1906 by another large organ as a
centenary memorial. Its list of pastors is as follows : —
A. Barker . . . . 1806-1814 Rev. W. Evans . . 1864-1871
Rev.W. Pickeringi8i6-i8i9 Rev.E.K.Everetti872-i876
Rev. R.Abbott .1821-1825 Rev. S. Skingle. .1876-1879
Rev. T. Smith . . 1826-1843 Rev. C. Rushby.1881-
Rev. J. Sutcliffe.1844-1862
114 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The cost of the Chapel was about £2,000, and is
built on freehold land.
EBENEZER BAPTISTS, CROSS LEECH STREET.
Originally part of the General Baptist community,
this branch left the establishment in Cross Street,
became known as " The Particular Baptists," and
took up their quarters in a room known as " Myles
Schofield's Garret," Old Street. The only means of
access to the " Garret " (which is still in existence, as
a photographic gallery) was across a foot-bridge, which
connected the building with the steep brow-side of
Although the locality is much changed since that
time, these facts have been verified by old residents.
As the cause of the " Ebenezers " grew, the accom-
modation of the garret was not sufficient, and an offer
being made by a local gentleman to erect a building
for the purpose of Divine Worship, the ambitious and
trusting people accepted the offer, and King Street
Chapel, known as Mount Zion, was built in 1824. A
disagreement arose between the Baptists and the
owner of the Chapel, the result being that the worshippers
migrated to Castle Hall, and built their present chapel,
in Cross Leech Street, about 1836. The cost of the
Chapel and Schools is given as /i,750. In 1906 the
addition of an organ, and its dedication to the memory
RELIGIOUS HISTORY II5
of the late Rev. A. Bowden and his wife, was a
memorable event. The following is a list of the Pastors
at this place since its formation : —
Rev. C. Morrell..i827-i842 Rev. J. Ash ..1846-1868
Rev. A. North . . 1869-1874 Rev. C. Evans . . 1874-1876
Rev. H. C. Field. 1879-1883 Rev. A. Bowden 1886-1900
Rev. E. Peake . . 1900-1904
HEYROD UNION SUNDAY SCHOOL.
This School originated, according to its annals, from
a number of persons who were connected with Chapel
Street School, which was originally a School for all
denominations. About the year 18 17, the idea of
forming a school at Heyrod asserted itself, " and on the
9th February of that year the Heyrod Union Sunday
School for the first time opened its doors to all denomina-
The school was held in '' a cellar — dark, damp, and
uncomfortable." After a little while, fresh quarters
were found, " these consisted of the two rooms of a
cottage, situated at a place known by the classic name
of Troy." According to the traditions of the school,
" in religious sentiment the founders were chiefly
Methodists, but, strongly attached as they were to
their own community, they yet had the discernment
to perceive that a School founded exclusively for
denominational interests was not likely to command
Il6 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
that support, which, in a small place like Heyrod,
was necessary to carry it on with success. The school
was consequently started on the widest ground of
Christian toleration. No creeds were imposed, and no
questions asked as to faith and doctrine, but all who
were willing to labour for the common good were freely
The project flourished and grew, until the pioneers
and their friends began to think about possessing a
school of their own ; their ideal being realised, when,
" on the 9th of September, 1819, the new school was
opened without any ceremony."
The donations of the teachers, scholars, and friends,
ranged from the modest 6d. to the handsome sum of
£10 los. ; the number of subscribers was 171. A
" deed " bearing the date of October 31st, 182 1, con-
tains the names of the following persons, who were
appointed the first Board of Trustees of the Heyrod
Union Sunday School : — Neddy Shelmerdine, Wihiam
Lawton, WiUiam Mills, James Lawton, Robert Lawton,
Luke Lawton, James Schofield, James Worsnip, James
Shelmerdine, Robert Kershaw, John Hurst, Robert
Shelmerdine, John Lawton, Joseph Mills, James Norris,
Joseph Roberts, Samuel Buckley, William Robinson,
Samuel Schofield, Joshua Holt.
The second Board of Trustees was appointed 30th
July, 1849 ; the third, 20th May, 1876 ; the fourth
and present Trustees were appointed 17th November,
RELIGIOUS HISTORY II7
The Sunday School celebrated its Jubilee on the 9th
February, 1867. The important dates in its history
are chronicled as follows : Established 1817. School
built, 1819. Enlarged 1868. The return given in the
History of Lancashire, 1825, is as follows : " Heyrod
School, scholars, 238 ; teachers, 80."
THE PRIMITIVE METHODISTS.
The Primitive Methodist body has been in existence
just over a hundred years, having had its origin at a
place called Mow Cop, a prominent mountain and
land-mark on the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire.
Its advent into Staly bridge occurred during the first
quarter of last century. The earliest recorded meeting-
room was a garret near Rassbottom, which, from the
association of the Primitive Methodists, became known,
locally, as " Ranter's Court."
Services were held regularly in the year 1827, and
five or six years later (1833) the little chapel in Grass-
croft Street, with its small burial ground fronting
Canal Street, was erected. For nearly sixty years the
building served the requirements of the worshippers
as chapel and school, and still forms part of the present
In 1892 the existing chapel was built, and is a lasting
credit to the energy of the worshippers ; the addition
Il8 BYGONE STALY BRIDGE
of a powerful organ adds to the musical part of the
services. The cost of the chapel was £i,8oo.
The transformation of the building, erected in 1833,
has resulted in the provision of a commodious assembly
room, and a number of smaller apartments which are
used as class-rooms, etc.
The Independents or Congregationalists began to be
known in Stalybridge about 1823-4, ^^ which period
a number of them followed the Particular Baptists in
the occupation of " Myles Schofield's garret," as they
also did a few years later in the tenancy of Mount Zion,
or King Street Chapel.
The Rev. Jonathan Sutcliffe, of Ashton-under-Lyne,
preached in private houses in 1826-7. In 1830 the
denomination began to increase, and formed a church
in 183 1. For about four years they worshipped in
King Street Chapel, and in 1834 secured a site on the
Cheshire side of the river, where they built a chapel
of their own, which was opened on Sunday, May 25th,
1835, " with a pubhc prayer meeting, at seven o'clock
in the morning." It is described as measuring " 45
feet by 50," the cost being £1,500.
The present church was erected on the same site,
and opened in 1861, at a cost of £5,000.
RELIGIOUS HISTORY II9
The principal subscriptions were as follows :
John Cheetham, Esq. 1166 Messrs. Benson . . 270
John Knott, Esq. . . 300 Miss Churchill . . 250
Mr. Kirk 200 J. F. Cheetham, Esq. 165
Miss Cheetham.. .. 140 Miss Berry .. .. 120
Mrs. Cheetham's class 130 G. H. Benson . . 75
The Sunday School was built in 185 1, and was replaced
by the present commodious buildings in 1906.
Ministers of the Church since its formation : — ■
Rev. G. Hoyle . . 1830-1842
Rev. F. C. Douthwaite . . 1844-1847
Rev. R. Roberts . . 1847-1853
Rev. J. C. McMichael . . 1853-1855
Rev. J. H. Gwyther, B.A. . . 1857-1869
Rev. J. Williamson, M. A. .. 1870-1879
Rev. H. W. Holder, M.A. . . 1880-1884
Rev. G. E. Cheeseman . . 1885-1900
Rev. G. S. Walker . . 1902-1906
Rev. A. E. Taylor . . 1907-
METHODIST NEW CONNEXION CHAPEL.
About the year 1829-30 it is recorded that a
** lawyer," named Mr. Bennett, took a piece of land
near Grosvenor Square for the purpose of erecting
thereon a first-class house, which was to stand in its
own grounds. The present Bennett Street formed the
120 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
boundary of one side of the plot, and was named after
the purchaser of the land. The basement, cellar
excavations, and foundations for the structure were
almost completed when Mr. Bennett died, and the
The Methodist New Connexionists bought the land
as it was, and erected the present commodious chapel
in 1831. On the completion of the building a strange
rumour was circulated that the gallery was not safe,
and people would not sit in it. The officials endeavoured
to prove its stability by placing scores of tons of iron
in it, as a test of its security ; seventy-five years have
passed since that incident, and the gallery stands rigid
and firm to-day.
Bennett Street School was next built, and has served
at different periods as a Day and Night school, as well
as for its original purpose — that of a Sunday school.
ST. PETER'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
From a rare and scarce pamphlet, printed in King
Street, Stalybridge, we glean the following particulars :
" On Wednesday, the 25 th of September, a splendid
Catholic Church, recently erected in Stalybridge, and
dedicated to St. Peter, was consecrated by the Right
Rev. Dr. Briggs, Bishop of the Northern District of
England. This sacred edifice has been to a considerable
extent raised by the voluntary contributions of the
RELIGIOUS HISTORY 121
Operative Catholics in this town and neighbourhood,
aided by the hberal subscriptions of their Protestant
brethren of various denominations." The consecration
sermon was dehvered in an eloquent and impressive
manner by Dr. Wiseman, Principal of the English
College at Rome, afterwards well known as Cardinal
Wiseman. " At three o'clock, a banquet was held
in the Stalybridge Town Hall, Thomas Ellison, Esq.,
of Glossop Hall, presided ; John Leech, Esq., acted
as vice-president." Thirty clergymen of the Catholic
faith were present, and about a hundred laymen,
amongst whom were Abel Harrison, Esq., William
Bayley, Esq., Henry Bayley, Esq., C. Bayley, Esq.,
Dr. Potter, John Wagstaffe, Esq., Henry Lees, Esq.,
Mr. Ockleshaw, etc. Notable speeches were made,
and a memorable gathering passed pleasantly over.
The date of the erection of the church is given as 1838,
the cost being about ;f5,ooo.
A beautiful oil painting was presented to this church
by Henry Lees, Esq., Solicitor, of this town, and is
still in existence.
The following are the names of the principal Rectors
who have been in charge of this church since its
formation : Rev. J. K. Anderton, Rev. Canon Egan,
Rev. Canon Hilton, Rev. Canon Carrol, Rev. Dr.
O'Toole, Rev. Father Ryder, Rev. Father O' Grady.
122 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
UNITED METHODIST FREE CHURCH.
This denomination was, and is still, spoken of as
" Bobby Kershaw's," the name arising from the fact
that Mr. Robert Kershaw was one of the first promoters,
if not the actual founder. The body first originated
in a very humble way, and held its meetings in a small
room off Quarry Street, which has done service in similar
fashion upon other occasions. The little Sunday school
progressed, until, about the year 1849, the idea of
building a home, or Sunday school and church, asserted
itself. The result was that by hard work and combination
the present Booth Street chapel was erected. The
project was ambitious, and for many years the struggling
Methodists had a keen fight for existence.
In 1877 the re-modelhng and renovation of the
structure was carried out, the cost amounting to nearly
Seating accommodation for 250 worshippers is
provided. The church contains an organ which cost
The movement was inaugurated in Stalybridge in
i860. The pioneers were John Jackson, Joshua Cart-
wright, Joseph Greenwood, Joseph Oliver, John
Howard, Samuel Hurst, and James Kerfoot. The
school was opened in a very humble fashion, in a
portion of Hob Hill House, on the 13th July, 1862.
RELIGIOUS HISTORY 123
The first officials consisted of a Board of three
Directors — ^viz., John Jackson, George Garside, and
Joseph Greenwood ; James Kerfoot, secretary, and
Joseph Ohver, treasurer.
The Sunday school progressed, and in the winter of
1865 a series of Sunday evening services were held in
the Foresters' Hall.
The formation of the church dates from this time,
and, as the number of worshippers increased, the
People's Hall, Corporation Street, was selected for
their purpose. The present church, in Canal Street, was
erected, and opening services held in February, 1870.
The site was given by Messrs. John and William Leech,
together with £200 ; Mrs. and Miss Leech, £200 ;
David Harrison, £50 ; Henry Bayley, £40 ; and Mr.
Rupert Potter, £40. The total cost of the church was
£1,163 ; cost of organ, £400.
The foundation-stone of the present schools, in Albert
Square, was laid by William Leech, Esq., on Whit-
Friday, May i8th, 1883, amidst great rejoicing. There
is in existence a well written booklet, dealing with the
inception and growth of this place of worship.
Rev. F. Revitt, 1867-1871. Rev.W.Harrisoni888-i904.
Rev.A.Ashworth,i872-i879. Rev. W. G. Price, 1904-
Rev. J. Freeston, 1880-1888.
124 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
THE GOSPEL MISSION HALL, KAY STREET.
About the year 1883, Mrs. John Frederick Knott, of
Staveleigh, formed a class, or Mothers' Meeting, which
assembled in a room for which that lady had arranged
at one of the local Coffee Taverns. The idea took
root and grew, until it was found advisable to have a
meeting-room for the little body of worshippers.
The first regular meeting-room was in a
building situated below the line of the highway, near
the Stamford Arms, and originally built for a currier's
warehouse — the building has recently been demolished.
The " Mission-Room " prospered, and eventually
migrated across the town to a building in Cross Leech
Street, which is still spoken of by those who were
connected with it as " The Little Mission."
After a stay in these premises for some years, a
further move was made to " The Temperance Hall,"
where the work still prospers and thrives.
The name of Mrs. Knott will ever be remembered in
connection with the Gospel Mission Hall and its work.
Since the death of that lady, the work has been carried
on by a committee of energetic and willing workers.
The following particulars have been gleaned from
a record printed in 1825 regarding the number of
teachers and scholars attending the Sunday schools
in Stalybridge at that period.
Methodist New Connexion . . 548 Scholars 63 Teachers
Old Connexion .. 480 ,, 100
General Baptists 200
Particular Baptists 180
Heyrod School 238
Hydes School (New Connexion) 100
Established Church S. School. 160
Total . . 1906
Sixteen years later, 1841, Butterworth published the
following tables, in connection with the Sunday schools
in Stalybridge : —
Scholars in Episcopal Schools .
The Markets of Olden Times — List of Commissioners-
Selecting the Site for the Market — Knowl Meadow ana Hyde's
Fold — The Contractors — The Market Steps— Fish-Market and
Lock-ups — Stalybridge Market on Saturday night — The Victoria
"The fascination is over; the hand of time and change has fallen
upon it — the scene is faded."
Richard Wright Procter.
mHE ''Market" or ''Market Place," during the
opening years of last century, was situated in
the vicinity of the " Angel Yard," and when the annual
" Wakes " came round, the customary booths, etc., were
erected on the " Bowling Green," which belonged to
the Angel Inn, and was situated where the Fire Station
is now built. In the year 1828, " The Stalybridge
Police Act, an Act for lighting, watching, and other-
wise improving the town of Stalybridge, .... for
regulating the police, and erecting a Market Place
within the said town," came into operation.
LOCAL GLEANINGS 127
The first Board of Police Commissioners was composed
of the following gentlemen :— John Cook, Edward
Hadfield, Thomas Orrell, Joseph Hatton, Jeremiah Lees,
George Piatt, David Cheetham, David Harrison, James
Bayley, James Adshead, Ralph Hall, Abel Bayley,
Thomas Evans, John Leech, John Wagstaffe, John
Vaudrey, Ralph Ousey, Henry Johnson, William
Bardsley, George Booth, James Hall.
The task of selecting a site for the proposed ^Market
was well discussed, there being a division of opinion
as to whether "Hyde's Fold" or " Knowl Meadow'*
should be chosen. " Hyde's Fold " was situated on the
plot immediately in front of the " old market entrance,"
in Market Street, and consisted of a typical Lancashire
homestead — viz., The Village Inn, with its watering
trough, the farrier's smithy, and most likely, at one
period, the necessary " stocks."
The " Knowl Meadow " was a plot of low-lying
ground, now covered by the range of stone houses,
stretching from the Portland Place bridge to Knowl
On the 22nd April, 1829, i^ was decided " that the said
]\Iarket be fixed at ' Hyde's Fold,' on the land leased
to William Bardsley, belonging to Lord Stamford."
The road known as Stamford Road had been recently
constructed, and was called " Sheffield Road," its course
requiring the demolition of a building marked as " John
Cook's house," which stood almost opposite the spot
occupied by the present entrance to the Police Station.
128 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
On the 5th August, 1829, the Commissioners resolved
" That a vote of thanks be presented to Lord Stamford
for his valuable gift of land for the town's market."
On January 6th, 1830, a request was made to Messrs.
Worthington and Nichols asking whether Lord Stamford
would be wiUing to give the land opposite George Cook's
(the Spread Eagle Inn) for a public building, provided
the Market was fixed at " Hyde's Fold." On January
20th, 1830, the Commissioners decided " That the
Market be fixed at ' Hyde's Fold,' and that land be
obtained (if possible) , either in Knowl Meadow or behind
George Cook's house, for an additional Market, and
to make up the 1,200 yards promised by Lord Stamford ;
a deputation to wait upon Messrs. Worthington and
Nichols for the purpose of obtaining Lord Stamford's
approbation." Mr. Worthington dechned, on behalf
of Lord Stamford, to give the land.
The " Commissioners " now set to work, plans were
made, old cottages bargained for, tenants compensated,
and the buildings, etc., demolished ; thus Hyde's Fold
passed away, and left the site for the proposed Market.
Estimates for the work were solicited, and the contract
given to a firm of Huddersfield builders, named Howard
and Johnson, the sum agreed upon for the erection of
the Town Hall and Market being £4,100. Mr. Peter
Johnson was engaged to superintend the work on
behalf of the " Commissioners," and was paid " one
pound per week, on account."
On the i8th March, 1831, it was decided to make
the addition to the original plans of "The Market
LOCAL GLEANINGS I29
Steps," and at the same time " to put in a breast
wall by the side of the river, bounding the site of
the Market Place."
The " Town Hall and Market Place " were erected,
and completed about the end of the year, and opened
with great celebrations on December 31st, 1831, there
being a procession through the town, in which " nine
bands took part."
The first ^Market-keeper was John Oldham, who was
a " watchman," his duties consisted of " sweeping and
cleaning out the Market, attending the place throughout
the daytime and keeping order. His salary was 12s.
Several attempts were made towards the provision
of a pubhc clock, "to be lighted up w^ith gas," which
never resulted in anything being done.
On the 5th April, 1839, ^^^ " Commissioners "
decided that a " Pound " or " Pin-fold " for strayed
cattle, etc., should be provided in the " Pot yard,"
which it is presumed occupied the site of the old
" Fish Market and Lock-ups."
The well-remembered Market-pump, and the grated
openings which gave light and air to the passages and
corridors underneath the Town Hall, were enclosed in
1843, when the " Fish Market and Lock-ups " were
erected by a contractor named Briscoe, at a cost
of £700. About 1864-5 there started an agitation for
a new Market, and many schemes were proposed, the
130 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
principal one being that the buildings covering the site
bounded by Market Street, and extending from King
Street to Queen Street, should be purchased, and a
Market erected in their place.
Another idea was " that the river should be spanned
by iron girders, near the Town Hall, and a Market
erected thereon." The result, finally, was the present
Victoria Market, the foundation-stone of which was
laid by the Mayor, James Sidebottom, Esq., on the
6th October, 1866, and opened to the public two years
later, on Stalybridge Wakes Saturday, i8th July,
1868, by the Mayor, James Kirk, Esq.
There is in existence an old-time ballad, descriptive
of '' Stalybridge Market on Saturday night," which
introduces many well-remembered characters, such as
Mustard Jack, Morris Yacoby, Billy Peg-leg, and others,
together with a description of the sights and sounds
to be seen and heard. It was intended to include the
verses in this volume, but space will not permit.
The following details in connection with the Victoria
Market, etc., may be interesting:
Cost of erection of Market 4500 o o
Purchase of Land 21 18 6 8
Cost of Victoria Bridge 1179 o o
Cost of Retaining Wall on River Bank . . 446 o o
Cost of Streets belonging to the Corporation 680 o o
Total Cost ^8969 4 8
Fish Market, erected in 1881 1600 o o
Present value said to be ;^i23oo o o
LOCAL GLEANINGS 131
Local Place-Names:— Flaggy Fields— New Town, the Piecer's
Market — Wot-Hole Steps — The Old Hen-Cote — Sud Alley—
Tabitha City— Waterloo— The Stumps— The Cock-pit.
" All my early life being spent in ... . where I was bred, born, and schooled,
I am naturally familiar with the scenes I have attempted to describe."
William Harrison Ainsworth.
' y I 'T the junction of three roads, on the summit
^fJL^ of Ridge Hill, there is a triangular plot, or open
space, which tradition says, is or was the site of a
*' Gibbet." It must be remembered that in the " olden
times " a great part of the traffic into Yorkshire passed
this way, and even within the memory of some of our
townspeople, there was quite a number of old Inns and
Beerhouses hereabouts — viz., " The Hare and Hounds,"
which stood opposite to the large stone house near the
quarry ; the " Black Horse," now known as " Clay
Leeches " ; and the " Old House at Home," near the
" Spinner's Folly." The wall-stile, known as " Flaggy-
Fields stile," will lead the pedestrian to a foot-path
which crosses the pastures, and winds down the slope
towards Heyrod, and there is a network of by-paths,
v/hich connected the homesteads of " Troy," " Little
London," " Spout Brook," and " Three-cornered Nook."
Three out of the four of these places have entirely
disappeared of late years. The quaint, yet serviceable,
path which gave the name to " Flaggy Fields " is
beheved to have been the work of " The Ousevs," who
132 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
carried on a woollen manufactory at Ridge Hill and
Heyrod, the idea being that the '' flags " enabled the
weavers to ascend and descend the slope with greater
safety, as they bore their '' pads " upon their shoulders.
We still listen to the description of " Flaggy Fields "
when their surfaces were gay with pale primrose blooms,
whilst even yet, in the early part of the summer, the
delicate fragrance of the wild hyacinths in the little wood
on the slope is perceptible. From this spot the view,
when the day is suitable, is extensive, the dale with its
manufactories, and the sloping uplands of Stayley and
Micklehurst stretching far away, until hemmed in by the
purple moorlands. The following is quoted from the
MS. of a well-known gentleman, and is very descriptive :
" These hills are the everlasting glories of Stalybridge,
and almost identical in height and shape as they are I
am always reminded, when I see them from Heyrod
Road, of Rider Haggard's description of the mountains
he calls ' Sheba's Breasts,' in his book ' King Solomon's
Mines.' No two hills can be more like the swelling
breasts of a fair woman than Wild Bank and Harridge.
The former rises to 1,310 feet and the latter to 1,293
feet above sea-level, and both afford most magnificent
views ; that from Wild Bank, when standing on the
footpath which crosses its summit, is certainly hard to
beat. When looking south, the fair valley of Longden-
dale lies at our feet, and with its background of the
Peak District hills forms a truly noble landscape. We
see Kinder Scout (2,088 feet high), the loftiest eminence
of the Pennine Range, nine miles away ; also the
LOCAL GLEANINGS 133
conical peak of Axe Edge (1,807 feet), which hes 2i
miles south-west of Buxton ; whilst, nearer home, the
grey towers of Marple and Mottram churches, and the
tall spire of Gee Cross, are easily visible, and even the
Stockport churches may be seen with the naked eye
when the atmosphere is clear.
" North and west of our standpoint, and generally
half hidden by a pall of smoke, hes the most densely
populated and the richest district in the world. The
best time to get a good view is late on a Sunday after-
noon in the summer time, and preferably after rain has
faUen, then, if you are lucky, you may catch a ghmpse
of a sun-lit sea at Formby, near Southport, 45 miles
away to the west, and occasionahy one can make out
the purple outlines of the Welsh mountains beyond
Wrexham, in the south-west, nigh on 60 miles off.
" Stalybridge may not be exactly a lovely town, but
here at its very gates we have scenery of which one can
never tire, and mountain air of the purest and most
health-giving nature. I have been permitted to see
many of the beauty spots of this earth in Europe, Asia,
Africa, and America, and possibly I may be considered
a bad judge, but in my eyes there is nothing in the wide
world which surpasses the view from Wild Bank, looking
south, when the heather is in bloom, and the sun is
sinking in the west at the close of a summer's day.
God has been very good to us in giving us this hill."
The comparative heights of the neighbouring hills
are : Hough Hill 800 feet, Hartshead Pike 800, Harrop
134 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Edge 1,000, and Biicton 1,126 feet. Across the Lan-
cashire plain the crest of Blackstone Edge is seen,
and on a very clear day the heights of Rivington Pike
(1,498 feet) can be detected. One hundred and twenty
years ago the vales before us were filled with forest
trees, no canal existed, no turnpike road, and no railway
track ; then it was that the pack-horse and the rumbling
stage-coach bore their respective freights along the
dusty crest of Ridge Hill.
"NEW TOWN," OR "CASTLE HALL."
The late Ralph Bates, Esq., once referred to the
district of Castle Hall in a speech, and said, " When I
was a lad, and was sent an errand up Castle Hall, it was
always spoken of as New Town. Castle Street and its
approach were known as ' Paradise,' and when a
messenger was sent from this side by way of Castle
Street, he was generally told to go up the ' Coach Road.' "
This statement is interesting, because very few people
were better acquainted with the town than he. The
neighbourhood of Castle Street obtained the name of
" Paradise " from the fact that prior to the establishment
of the mills it was covered, as we are told, with " orchards
of fruit trees and corn fields, with here and there a
farmer's cottage." The rapid development of trade
and commerce swept all these associations into oblivion.
THE PIECER'S MARKET.
It was the custom for unemployed operatives to
assemble on the old Caroline Street bridge, and to wait
LOCAL GLEANINGS 135
for the spinners needing pieceis and scavengers. The
bridge was built of brick, and consisted of a single
arch which spanned the river ; on either side was a low
stone parapet, just high enough to sit upon. The
place could be seen from the numerous mills about,
and if there was a piecer short anywhere it was a
common thing for the spinner to look through the mill
window to see if there were any " in the market." A
case is recorded where the cotton master, passing through
the spinning rooms, noticed a spinner being short-
handed, and stripping off his coat he stepped into the
jenny-room and took the spinner's place while that
individual went to find a piecer.
WOT HOLE STEPS.
" Wot Hole steps " was a passage, or public road, to
the river, and is now covered by the premises of the
" Manchester and County Bank." Its name originated
from the fact that there existed in the lower portion
a trough or cistern, into which the condensed water
from the steam engine at Hatchett's mill found its way.
The water was used by the neighbours for domestic
purposes. Hathett's, or Hatchett's mill, was situated
on or near the site of Messrs. Brownson's shop. It was
a building consisting of a cellar and three or four storeys.
The engineer was the father of the late Mr. Alfred Nield,
who, in addition to " minding the engine," was a shoe-
maker. It is recorded that the Kershaws, cotton
spinners of Guide Bridge, commenced business at this
136 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
THE OLD HEN COTE.
This mill was situated in Chapel Street, the site being
now covered by a lodging-house. The building con-
sisted of a basement and three or more storeys, It has
been recorded that this was the site of the original
" Bastile." In its latter days the place was used as a
hat manufactory, and is well remembered because there
was a public road which connected Chapel Street and
Shepley Street, in a diagonal line, behind the old mill.
The place known as Sud Alley was a narrow passage
which led into Water Street from the rear of " Orrell's
Mill." The reason for its title is said to have originated
from the fact that a cistern, which was fed by the
condensed water of the mill-engine, was used by the
neighbours, some of whom took their washing and did
it on the spot. In consequence of the amount of soap
used there was a constant stream of water trickling
towards Water Street, which was then known as " Dirty
Street," and from this nuisance the passage became
know^n as " Sud AUey."
" Tabitha City " was the name given to a few cottages
which existed in the rear of the new shops, near the
King's Arms. The entrance to the place was along a very
narrow passage, which was nearly opposite to Mr. Lees'
Druggist's Shop. The ancient building, now known as
the " Talbot Inn," was at one period the residence
LOCAL GLEANINGS 137
of a cotton master, whilst another similar residence,
with iron palisades in front of it, and an open space,
occupied the site now covered by the " King's Arms."
This house is described as being ** in a lonely situation,
surrounded by tall trees, through which the wind whistled
at night, with nothing in front of it but trees and shrubs,
which covered the sloping ground to the river's edge."
The district known as '' Waterloo " doubtless
originated about 1816, and was at one period a very
select neighbourhood. The slopes of the Hague were
covered with trees, and the construction of the " Man-
chester and Holehouse Turnpike Road," now known as
Wakefield Road, had not been thought about.
Three footpaths led from " Rassbottom " to the
*' Hague." The one now forming a portion of King
Street was a private road ; that which was transformed
into a flight of steps is a continuation of Back King
Street ; and the one recently closed, which led from
the " Red Lamp," to the " George Hotel " was public.
The " George Hotel " was once the residence of John
Wagstaffe, Esq. The large house near the Fire Station,
now occupied by Mr. H. Stokes, was built by James
Hall, Esq., of King Street Mills, and was, within the
memory of many, a typical manufacturer's home. In
front of it was a large plot filled with fruit trees, behind
it a kitchen garden, which stretched up the hillside.
The entrance to Mellor Brow was through a wicket gate.
Even in our own time the front of the old house was
138 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
known as " Piatt's Garden," where the spring blossoms
whitened the thorn fences.
" The Stumps " were two sets of massive stone posts,
which carried a " gallows-gate," on the upper edge of
which was fixed a thick iron plate, into which was
riveted a row of savage looking triangular spikes to
prevent lads from swinging thereon. One set of these
posts was fixed at the entrance to "Waterloo" proper;
the other at the end of the short street which led to the
" Bowling Green." There was no public road for
vehicles direct from Market Street to King Street, or
from Hadfield Street to King Street. The barriers were
kept fastened with chains and padlocks. Prow Street,
or Proud Street, now known as Half Street, was simply
used by pedestrians.
THE COCK prr.
This place is situated near Messrs. Dawson's Works,
off Stamford Street, and was notorious as the rendezvous
of the lovers of " cock fighting." Tradition says that
the magistrates determined to put a stop to the practice,
and ordered a raid to be made at the first opportunit}^
The time arrived, and the sporting fraternity assembled
in large numbers. A constable w^as sent to reconnoitre,
but he returned breathless to his superior, with the
intelligence that " All the big gentlemen in Stalybridge
are there." There is no record of the raid being
LOCAL GLEANINGS ' 139
Old Customs and Pastimes— Staley Wood Rush-Cart-Bull-
Baiting-Peace-Egging— Bon-Fires— " Past Ten o'clock "-Well-
" Even in this lettered age, not all are lettered."
THE STALEY WOOD RUSH CART.
*^^HE ancient festival of " Rush Bearing" was a
\9 time-honoured custom with the inhabitants of
Stalybridge in the past. Scarcely had the " Peace-
eggers " of Easter-tide laid their spangles and dresses
aside, than the subject of choosing the dancers for
escorting the Rush Cart was discussed. It was the
unwritten law that the old dancers and musicians
should act as tutors and teachers to the new ones.
Aspirants were allowed to give a specimen of their
abilities, and a system of " practice neets " was
The wives and sweethearts of the dancers began to
prepare their " doncin' clooas," competing keenly as
to who should be the finest dressed. Spangles, ribbons,
beads, and lace, were lavishly sewn on to the garments.
The dancers wore " fine linen shirts and velvet breeches."
Garlands of flowers were made with which to adorn the
horses, and the Rush Cart had a special cover. On one
occasion tradition says that such a cover cost over
" thirty pounds," owing to the elaborate design in
140 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The science of building a Rush Cart was an art
known to but very few, and w^as chiefly carried out
under the practised eye of some expert " thatcher."
The principal portion of the rushes used were gathered
in the marshy lands of Staley and the neighbourhood
of the " Brushes," but a special kind, which were
called " binding rushes," could not be obtained nearer
than " Fidler's Green," a place some miles beyond
Young men of those days thought little of setting off
on the Saturday afternoon and walking to the place
where the rushes grew, staying on the spot all night,
and when daylight came gathering as many as they
could bundle together and carry away. With their
loads upon their backs they would return to Stalybridge,
arriving home on the Sunday night. The building of
the Rush Cart was watched by those interested with
keen delight, the climax being reached when the
decorated cover was fastened on the front of the
structure. Attached to the cover were numerous
articles of value, lent by the supporters of the festival,
viz., silver watches, tea spoons, ladles, brooches, and
even tea-pots and copper kettles. Whenever the
Stalybridge Rush Cart and its dancers met those of
Ashton or Dukinfield, it was the signal for trouble and
strife, and many serious conflicts occurred, when '' Rush
Cart Lads were bonny oh ! " It was the custom on
the demolition of the Rush Cart to place the rushes in
the aisles and pews of the churches for the worshippers
to walk on.
LOCAL GLEANINGS I4I
A favourite attraction during the period of the Annual
Wakes, was the exciting, but somewhat degrading
sport, known as Bull-baiting.
The custom was to obtain a bull noted for its ferocity,
which was tethered by means of a long rope to a tree
stump or other suitable post, and while thus fastened,
dogs specially bred and trained for the purpose were
set upon the animal.
One man acted as master of the ceremonies, and his
duty was to see that only one dog was slipped at a
time. The men who had entered their dogs were ranged
in a line, against a wall or fence, and when all was
ready, their positions having been chosen by lot, the
first man would slip his dog at the bull, and if the dog
succeeded in pinning the animal by the nose, and
holding on, it was supposed to have won. In the great
majority of cases the dog was caught on the horns
of the bull and tossed up into the air, sometimes higher
than the neighbouring houses, and was either killed
outright or maimed in such a manner as to be of no
further use. Occasionally the rope by which the bull
was fastened would break, and the people would rush
from the place in all directions, limbs being broken
in the scrimmage.
It w^as the practice to " bait the bull " for three
days in succession, when the animal was eventually
slaughtered, and the carcase sold at a very low price
to the poorer classes. A common saying in the town
142 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
was : *' It's as tough as bull beef." Prizes were offered
by the local publicans to the competing dogs, the
trophy being usually a brass or leathern collar. Bulls
were baited on the " Hague," on the site of Grosvenor
Square, the " Bowling Green," and on a plot of land
near the present Victor Mill.
The custom of young folks, chiefly lads and youths,
going from house to house during Easter- tide dressed
in fantastic garments and performing a rhyming play,
was a feature of this district. It is still remembered
vividly by the elders of the town, who in their days
doubtless took pari: in the antics of St. George, Bold
Slasher, Lord Nelson, and the indispensable " Little
Devil Doubt," with his besom and his final threat,
" If you don't give me money I'll sweep
you all out."
A veteran, lately passed away, during a visit paid
by the writer, referred to his experiences as follows : —
'' We were always sure of getting something at the
house of Mr. and Mrs. Piatt, not from Mr. Piatt, but
from his lady. Sometimes there would be twelve or
fourteen of us, and a rough lot we were. Ranged against
the wall of the yard near the house, we went through
our play-acting, and on its conclusion we each got a
gill pot full of milk and a new-laid egg, together with
a threepenny bit. Ah ! Masters were masters in those
LOCAL GLEANINGS I43
BON-FIRES AND FIREWORKS.
The celebration of the " Fifth of November " has
ever been a favourite custom with the younger portion
of the inhabitants, and many serious accidents resulted
from the use of firearms and gunpowder.
Almost every household had amongst its chattels a
gun of some description, which was used in these
celebrations, and the inflammable nature of the material
used in the local industries made it necessary for the
authorities to take precautionary measures against
fire, and warnings were annually issued by placard
and through the medium of the " Bellman," against
the use of " Firew^orks, Gunpowder, and Firearms."
The bon-fires were sometimes of large proportions, for
coal could be bought at the pit mouth at from ^^d. to
4d. per cwt., and the anniversary fires sometimes burned
and smouldered for several days.
Small cannons were used by the lads, whilst the
elders would occasionally procure a discarded ship's
gun, the supervision of the firing of which was entrusted
to some veteran pensioner, and the detonations of the
explosions would echo and re-echo, startling the
inhabitants from one end of *' Rassbottom " to the
CRYING THE HOUR OF THE NIGHT.
The custom of the Watchman shouting out the time
of the night, thus : " Past ten o'clock ; keep your
144 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
windows and doors locked," is of very ancient origin,
and was revived during the rule of the " PoUce Com-
There was a proposition before that body deahng
with the provision of a " PubUc Clock," which was to
have " two dials and to be lighted up with gas." The
economic authorities appear to have " shelved " the
question, and as a substitute, doubtless, passed the
following resolution : — " September loth, 1841. That
the watchmen call the hour of the night from 10 p.m.
to 5 a.m. until some other arrangement relating thereto
shall be made."
On the 4th March, 1842, the following resolution was
passed : — " That the crying of the hour by the Watch-
men be discontinued." Four years later the matter of
a '' Public Clock " was again discussed, April 2nd, 1846 :
— " That the Clerk do advertise for estimates for the
erection of a turret for the intended Clock." " The
Turret " was erected, and still adorns the roof of the
Town Hall, without a clock. The following may be the
explanation of a further change of policy. August
30th, 1848 : — " That in future the Watchman be
instructed to call the hour of 10 at night and 5 in the
The supply of water for domestic purposes was
obtained in various ways ; that required for cooking
was carried from the wells, springs and pumps, of which
LOCAL GLEANINGS I45
there are few traces left whilst for ordinary purposes
the well-remembered rain-tubs, with their wood spigots,
furnished a supply. The condensed water from the mills
and the river, to which latter there were many public
roads, was also available ; then, again, there were
people who carried water at so much per burn-can.
A noted well was situated near the Bowling Green,
and was known as " Mellor's Drop " ; two splendid
wells existed near Mount Pleasant, whilst " Cook's
Well " near Ridge HiU Lane and the one existing at
" Rhodes," half way up Ridge Hill, are still shown on
the Ordnance Survey maps. Some years ago, whilst
necessary repairs were in progress near King Street a
large and neatly shaped well shaft of considerable depth
was discovered, doubtless the supply at some period of
one of the neighbouring inns for brewing purposes ;
having fallen into disuse it had been covered over and
forgotten. The famous " Yorkshire Row Pump " has
been made the subject of a song, one verse of which
runs as follows : —
" The Brushes with its rising ground
With reservoirs will soon abound ;
Its brooks and streams are good, I know,
But nowt like th' pump in Yorkshire Row."
From i860 to 1870 there were several dry summers,
and people felt the scarcity of water. In many houses,
taps were unknown ; the result was that the wells were
appreciated, and one which had never failed in its supply
was selected by the grateful neighbours for the cele-
146 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
bration of the ancient and time-honoured custom of
The time selected was vStalybridge Wakes, 1869,
which commenced on July 17th, and the occasion was
one to be remembered. Messrs. Leech, of Grosvenor
Street Mills, furnished the necessary material and
labour required in the erection of a framework, etc.,
above the well, which was situated near " Leech's
tunnel." Beautiful garlands of flowers and festoons
of foliage were fixed and looped as decorations,
streamers of bunting and gaily coloured flags adding to
the effect, whilst prominent above all were the mottoes
** Success to the spring, may it never cease to flow,"
and " Success to the well."
The residents of the streets and approaches entered
into friendly rivalry in their efforts at decorating their
own houses. The Shepherd's Band was in evidence
and supplied choice selections, whilst crowds of towns-
people and visitors who ascended the slope were
invited to " drink from the well." No charge was made,
a box being provided for voluntary offerings, which
were handed over to the representatives of the District
Infirmary. Such, then, was the last of the Stalybridge
Weil-Dressings, and although almost forgotten it was
most interesting to hear the older residents talk about
it, when they saw the photograph which uas on view
in the recent Jubilee Exhibition.
LOCAL GLEANINGS I47
Quaint Gleanings from the Past— The Staley Wood Club,
iyg2_The First Machine-Shop —The Blanketeers — Millbrook —
The Post-Offices of the Past— Body Snatching.
" Pursuit of knowledge under difficulties."
THE STALEY WOOD CLUB, 1792.
mHERE existed in the year 1792 a society for mutual
instruction in Staley Wood, a fact which is
verified by reference to the list of subscribers in Aiken's
History of Manchester. On the second page of the said
list win be found the name of " John Bower for Staley
Wood Club." Another proof is the following extract
from the memoirs of a local worthy : —
" At the age of 18 (1796) I was a member of a book
club consisting of 26 members, which was continued
for many years. . . . We established a conversation
club and drew up a number of rules for our guidance,
one of which prohibited the discussion of any political
or religious subject. We had members from Ashton,
Dukinfield, Newton, and Mossley ; sometimes we held
our meeting at Ashton, to accommodate our friends
from Oldham, Royton, and other places, and I can truly
say I gathered more sound intellectual knov>^ledge in
connection with that club than at any period of my
The writer has in his possession a book which belonged
to a similar society at Mossley, founded in 1792. The
volumxC has the society's label affixed within its covers.
148 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
THE FIRST MACHINE SHOP.
About the year 1800-01 there existed a firm of
machinists, whose name was '' Hartley and Woodcock."
Their workshop was located in the attic of a three
storeyed building, which stood on the site now covered
by the " Fire Station." The place is well remembered,
and was known as " Old Jenny Booth's Garret." The
entrance was by way of a large entry in '* Hall's Court,"
across a yard, and up an external flight of stone steps
to the second floor, whence another set of steps or
stairs led to the workshop.
Whilst '' Hartley and Woodcock " were in business
here, they made jennies of the '* enormous size of
20 dozens," and it is recorded that from these machines
a spinner could earn from thirty shillings to two pounds
per week, by working from four or five o'clock in the
morning until eight and nine o'clock at night.
" Hartley and Woodcock " became bankrupt after a
few years, owing to troublous times.
THE " BLANKETEERS."
There was about the year 1817 a certain class of
operatives who organised themselves into a society,
and met in the " dead of the night " to discuss " reform."
Their place of assembly was a cellar near the " Bowling
Green." These men were known as " Jacobins," but
in later years were called ** Blanketeers."
One of the leading spirits was a blacksmith named
John Cocker, who was a man of more than ordinary
LOCAL GLEANINGS I49
intelligence, being gifted as a speaker and reader. The
names of the members of this society have been preserved,
and the list includes the following : — ^James Swindells,
John Tinker, William Piatt, Josiah Knott, Samuel
Nield, John Nield, James Nield, Thomas Hague, John
Norton, Joseph Norton, James Lees, Jonathan Cowgill,
and others. Newspapers were expensive luxuries in
those days, and it was the custom for one of the number,
whenever they met, to read aloud to the party.
Political feeling ran very high, and on the inauguration
of the *' Blanketeer Movement " many Stal3/bridge men
joined the scheme. The project was that a large body
of Lancashire operatives should march to London, and
lay the grievances of the people before the Government.
Each man must provide himself with a blanket, which
was folded up and carried on the shoulders like a knap-
sack. On the loth March, 1817, the Stalybridge
detachment left the village and marched to Stockport,
where it was arranged that they should meet the
Manchester and Oldham sections. Arrived at the
appointed place, they found a large number of Dragoons
and other soldiers waiting for them, who soon dispersed
the " Blanketeers." Some of the more daring spirits
evaded the soldiers, and eventually reached London.
Jonathan Cowgill, of Stalybridge, was one, and
having sought and obtained an interview with Lord
Sidmouth, he and his companions explained their
mission. His Lordship listened patiently, and kindly
advised them to return to their country homes, supple-
150 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
meriting his remarks with a present of ten shilhngs to
Jonathan CowgiU returned to Stalybridge somewhat
sun-burned and weather-stained, and was for a time
famous on account of his adventure. Cowgill in after
years became book-keeper and cashier at one of the
THE POST OFFICES OF THE PAST.
The earliest post master we can find mention of is
Mr. James Buckley, who held that office in Stalybridge
in 1818. Further information states that " Letters arrive
at Twelve at Noon, are sent off at Five in the Evening,
by a foot-post, to meet the mails at Manchester."
In the year 1825 we find that the post mistress was
Mrs. Mary Ann Mather, Post Office, Bowling Green.
" Letters arrive from Manchester every morning at 8,
and are despatched at 3 afternoon."
The identical house was one of three which stood
opposite to the King Street Chapel, and was used as
a shop prior to its demolition a few years ago. In the
wall of the building which came next to Bell's Court,
there was a portion of the brickwork which was newer
than the rest, where the post office window had been
In 1848. " The Post Office, Rassbottom Street.
Post-master, Dekin Cheetham. Letters arrive from all
parts (from I^.Ianchester) every morning at half-past
LOCAL GLEANINGS I5I
seven, and every afternoon at half-past five, and are
despatched thereto every evening at half -past six
Millbrook, or Staley Mill, was up to the year 1793
little more than a hamlet or fold, there being nothing
but a narrow lane or pack horse road to Stalybridge.
The old road is shown in the ancient maps, winding
through the dale from the Roman road at Swineshaw,
towards the Scout, a branch also going by way of Besom
Lane towards Hyde Green. The construction of the
turnpike road from Stalybridge to Saddleworth opened
up a good connection, and the growth of Millbrook
dates from that time. In 1803 it is recorded that
Millbrook itself contained only eight houses, including
the old ToUbar House, and four years later (1807),
we learn that there existed a cotton mill known as
Staley Mill. According to the description referred to,
the mill was " a building seven windows long, including
the staircase, and four storeys high ;" the largest spinning
mules it could contain would be 23J dozens.
The bottom room was used for carding and slubbing,
and was sub-let to Mr. Abel Hyde, of Moorgate. The
place was turned by a water wheel fed from the Swine-
shaw Brook. The owner of the mill was Mr. Hugh
Kershaw. In the year 1814 the place passed into the
hands of Mr. Saville Smith, who enlarged the building
by adding two windows at the end nearest the brook.
A small steam engine was now put down at the back
152 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
of the mill. Woollen manufacture was now discontinued
in the lower room, and cotton carding introduced in
its place. Financial troubles overtook Mr. Smith about
the year 1821-2, and the mill was stopped for a long
time, until Messrs. Harrison, of Stalybridge, bought the
concern and' restarted it. In 1837 ^ disastrous fire
broke out, which almost levelled the place to the
ground. Fortunately for the operatives no time was
lost in its re-erection, for there is a record of " the
rearing supper," which took place on the 26th November,
1837. As soon as the place was roofed in, machinery
and shafting were delivered, and in March, 1838, a pair
of mules were started, whilst on the Wakes Tuesday
(23rd July) a grand dinner party was given by Messrs.
Harrison to their workpeople.
The employees of the firm at Millbrook and Stalybridge
met, and formed a procession at Rassbottom Mills, and
marched, headed by the Stalybridge Old Band, to
Millbrook. The number of persons may be judged
when we quote that " the procession reached from
the mill door at Millbrook to Spindle Point, Copley,
near the Reindeer Inn."
On the 5th August, 1855, a great flood occurred. The
water from the brook found its way into the weaving
shed and carried some of the looms away, whilst two
days later there was a repetition, the depth of water
being 4 feet loi inches, causing great damage to
machinery and material.
LOCAL GLEANINGS 153
The practice of robbing the silent grave of its inmate
was once very common in the neighbourhood of Staly-
bridge, and memorials of the custom in the shape of
"Resurrection stones" may be seen in the burial ground,
Cocker Hill, it being usual, after the interment of a
coffin, to lower a large block of stone on to the casket
before re-filhng the cavity with earth.
The late Mr. Wilham Chadwick, in his book of
Reminiscences, deals with the subject at length, and
mentions particularly the case of the Stalybridge youth,
Lewis Brierley, whose body was taken from the tomb
in Mottram Churchyard, and where the following
inscription may still be seen: — ■
'' In memory of Lewis Brierley, son of James and
Mary Brierley, of Valley Mill, who died Oct. 3rd, 1827,
in the 15th year of his age.
" Mary, wife of the above-mentioned James Brierley,
who died April 9th, 1828, in the 43rd year of her age."
"Though once beneath the ground his corpse was laid,
For use of surgeons it was thence conveyed,
Vain was the scheme to hide the impious theft,
The body taken, shroud and coffin left ;
Ye wretches who pursue this barbarous trade.
Your carcases in turn may be conveyed
Like his, to some unfeeling surgeon's room,
Nor can they justly meet a better doom."
James Brierley was a woollen manufacturer, and at
one period worked the " Old Greasy Mill," Old Street.
His son Lewis, a very fine youth for his years, was
154 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
accidentally killed by the kick of a horse belonging" to
his father. A friend of the family, Mr. HoUinworth,
of Newton Moor, heard of the accident and visited
Brierley, at the same time offering a place for the
deceased in his family vault within the precincts of
Mottram Church. The funeral party arrived at their
destination, but considerable delay occurred before the
sexton could be found. Darkness was closing in, and
instead of being buried, as intended, inside the church,
the coffin was interred in a grave which had been
prepared for somebody else, and which grave was near
the outer wall of the church yard. The final part of
the interment had to be performed by candle light.
The mother of the deceased was ill and did not attend
the funeral, and she was much troubled when she
learned how matters had been carried out. A strange
idea took possession of her, and in order to satisfy his
wife, Brierley went time and again to his son's grave
to ascertain if anything had been disturbed. James
Brierley was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and
during one of his visits to the churchyard he met a
brother craftsman, who inquired the reason for his
frequent visits. Brierley's answer was that his wife
suspected that " Lewis had been taken." " Yes,"
said his friend, " and your wife is right ; the lad has
been taken." Nothing more was said at the time.
As will be seen by the epitaph quoted, the mother
died about six months after the son, and Brierley had
a new grave made. By a singular coincidence the
grave in which his son had been interred was re-opened
LOCAL GLEANLVGS I55
on the day of the funeral, upon seeing which, Brieiiey
and one of his friends immediately descended and
lifted out the cofhn of '* Lewis," which was found to
contain only the shroud. Brierley was a man not to be
trifled with. He exhibited the empty coffin of his son
on the " Crown Pole Steps," and called upon his
" Brethren " to help him to trace the desecrators of
the tomb. He even came down to Stalybridge for
strong ropes, with which he fastened the coffin to the
pole. The miscreants remained undiscovered. The
coffin was brought to Stalybridge, and the father had
it re-mounted and polished, keeping it for his own use.
The writer has verified these facts by inquiries from
the family, one of whom remembers the empty coffin,
and was present when Brierley himself was placed in it.
James Brierley died at his residence in Old Street,
Stalybridge, on the 20th September, 1853, and was
interred in the burial ground of the Ebenezer Baptist
Chapel, Cross Leech Street, where a double vault,
covered with huge flat stones, may be seen from the
Brierley always suspected that the sexton at Mottram
was connected with the disappearance of his son's body,
and never allowed any opportunity to pass without
telling him so. To such an extent did this custom
grow that the sexton dared not come to Stalybridge.
The sequel is but traditional : — " One night as James
Brierley was seated by his fireside, a visitor cam.e to
the door with a message that ' Mr. Brierley was wanted
on Cocker Hill.'
156 BYGONE STALY BRIDGE
On arrival at the place Brierley found a man lying
on his death-bed, one who had been considered a friend
of the family, and who even attended the funeral of
' Lewis.' In the presence of his wife the expiring
man confessed that he was the one who had taken the
body, and that the suspected sexton was entirely
innocent. It is said that James Brierley went to
Mottram early next morning and expressed his sorrow
to the man he had long suspected, at the same time
begging his forgiveness."
The Mill Schools— The Uames' Schools— Private Schools and
Academies — Night Schools — The Educational Institute.
" When I was a lad, if we wanted to climb, we had first
to make our own ladders."
THE MILL SCHOOLS.
V^^HE " Factory School " was often located in the
^^J " Warehouse," or near the " Lodge." At one
mill the schoolmaster acted as " Lodge-keeper and
RoUer-coverer, in addition to his duties as teacher. It
is said that this worthy had a piece of brass gas-piping,
which he used as a " cane " in the cases of obstinate or
unruly pupils, but whether he did or not some of the
lads who passed through his hands became in after
years successful manufacturers and business men.
One noted schoolmaster of this type had been a soldier,
LOCAL GLEANINGS 157
who had followed the fortunes of war under the Iron
Duke, and many of our old townspeople can give vivid
word-portraits of him, especially of the periods known
as " pension days." The children in many cases taught
each other the little they had learned at home. These
MiU Schools opened at six o'clock in the morning, and
at half-past ten in the forenoon the scholars were
dismissed and sent into the mill, another set, who had
been at work, taking their places.
The hour for leaving work at night was supposed to
be seven o'clock, but it was seldom the hands got away
at that time. The subsequent formation of the " British
Schools " in Stalybridge and Dukinfield abolished this
system, the mill children being sent to the new institu-
tions, which were known as " Half-time Schools."
Night schools were formed in various parts of the
town, where intelligent operatives acted as teachers to
their fellow workers. A school of this description was
founded in Ridge Hih Lane, about i860, which developed
into the present " Working Men's Institute."
THE SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES.
The question of education was well considered by
the better classes, who sent their sons to be trained at
various places. The Moravian College at Fairfield was
the nearest high-class school. Many of our local cotton
masters were educated there. In 1818, there appears
to have been only one recognised school in Stalybridge,
situated on Cocker Hill, the schoolmaster being Nathan
158 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Seven years later, 1825, the number had increased to
five, Cocker Hill School, John Brookes, master ; Chapel
Street School, William Watson, master ; and three
others which cannot be located, under the control of
Solomion Cartwright, Thomas Hyde, and John Hussey.
The children who worked in the mills got very little
schooling, except that which they obtained at the
Sunday Schools, where they were taught to read and
write in copy books. The action of the authorities in
connection with the " factory children " miade it
compulsory that the employers should give each child
employed a certain number of hours per day in school.
The old-fashioned " Dames' Schools " existed, of which
there is this record : —
Mary Whitehead, Schoolmistress, Stamford Street.
Jessie Sutcliffe, ,, Mount Pleasant.
James and Mary Holmes, Canal Street.
Mary and Jane Davies, Bennett Street.
Lister Ives, Grosvenor Street.
James Shaw, Set Street.
Henry Schofield, Beaumont Square.
The rapid growth of Stalybridge and the inauguration
of the various Churches and Chapels offered many
opportunities for the establishment of day schools. In
1848 there existed the following : —
British School, Kay St., Schoolmaster,George Thomas.
Catholic School, Spring Bank St., Mistress, Maria Lees.
National School, Hey Heads, Schoolmaster, William
LOCAL GLEANINGS I59
National School, Copley, ,, Alexander Smith.
National School, Millbrook, ,, Thomas Howard.
People's School, Brierley St., ,, John Avison.
Mount Pleasant Academy, ,, Robert Smith.
Chapel Street School, ,, Thomas Smith.
About 1851-2 there was formed a society in " Castle
Hall," known as the " Educational Institute," from
which originated the *' People's Educational Institute,"
or " People's Hall," now known as the " Grand
Theatre." This building was erected in the " Early
Sixties " of the last century. A document dated 7th
May, 1861, drawn up by Mr. Noah Buckley, as Sohcitor
to the Company, contains the names of the Board of
Directors as under : — William Hill, James Rams-
bottom, George Frederick Tyne, John Street, Edmund
Betts, William Hilton, Thomas Hodson, Jabez Pagden,
John Cartey and William Belfield, the last named
being a member of the present directorate of the
company ; whilst its legal matters are still in the
hands of the firm of solicitors which bears Mr.
Buckley's name. Its first annual meeting was held on
the 25th October, 1864, when the officials consisted
of the following persons as directors :— Isaac Newton
(President) ; William Hill (Secretary) ; James Willerton,
James Ramsbottom, George Haigh Green, Richard
Brereton, George Frederick Tyne, William Evans
(No. i), Wihiam Evans (No. 2), John Street, andWilham
Hilton. The cost of the People's Institute was about
;fi,200, and that of the shops in Melbourne Street,
also owned by the Institute, £653.
l60 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The First Fire Engine and Fire Brigade — The Turnover from
the Subscribers to the Commissioners — The Old Brigade— A Fire
at Asliton — The Water Supply — List ot Chief Ofhcers.
■• Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst, — it's a grand maxim."
Old Scotch Proverb.
THE FIRST FIRE ENGINE AND FIRE BRIGADE.
TTTHE danger of fire has always been very great in
J— i—L connection with the cotton industry. No sooner
had the pioneers begun to build their four and five
storeyed mills than the fact asserted itself. The spinners,
weavers, and others had to work during the dark hours
of the mornings and evenings of the winter months by
the aid of candle light and oil lamps. There is a record
of the destruction of " The Bastile " b}^ fire in 1804,
when a man named Joseph Booth was killed. The
historical " Soot-poke Mill " met a similar fate in May,
1824, whilst a cotton mill belonging to Thomas Lees,
in Queen Street, took fire on the 29th Ma}', 1823, ^^^
was burned to the ground in twenty minutes, an eye
witness stating " that crowds of people stood on the
Bowling Green to view the flames."
It maybe inferred that the troublous times of 1811-12,
when mill-burning by rioters and malcontents was
common, woulii be the era of the establishment of a
fire brigade. The mill owners were alive to their great
risks, and covered themselves by insurance, whilst the
" Phoenix Fire Office," in the 3'ear 18 18, granted a
LOCAL GLEANINGS l6l
sum of money " towards the repair of the Stalybridge
Engine then in use." Three years later, 1821, the
engine aforesaid being considered unsatisfactory, a
subscription hst was opened, by which means a new
engine was purchased from n, London firm named
Hopwood and Tilley. Cotton mills were multiplying in
the town, and on the 19th of June, 1823, the old records
tell of the addition to the appliances of the Stalvbridge
Fire Brigade of another engine constructed and supplied
by the firm before named.
A distinction by name was now thought necessary ;
hence, one engine was christened the " Presentation,"
and the other the '' Subscription." It is recorded that
these fire engines were fitted with " horse shafts," and
also with rope harness for men, doubtless like the quaint
gearing used for the drawing of the Rush Carts at
On page 156 of " Butterworth's History of Staly-
bridge, 1840," we find the following paragraph : " That
very necessary and beneficial establishment, the Fire
Engine House, was erected in 1824 by subscription,"
and in the records of the Stalybridge PoHce Com-
missioners, under the date of 30th July, 1828, there is
the entry that ; ''An offer having been made by the
trustees and subscribers of the Fire Engines, Engine
House, and Lock-up, to be given to the Stalybridge
Police Commissioners, resolved that this offer be
accepted, and that the Commissioners undertake to
pay all debts now owing on the above property."
l62 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Mr. John Cheetham, of Rassbottom Street, Post-
master, Draper, and Smallware Dealer, was the first
officiahy appomted "Conductor of fire engines," and the
body of men who formed the Fire Brigade then estab-
Hshed comprised the following : —
Thomas Blakeley. James Rowcliffe. Hugh Ashton.
John Barker. James Sutchffe. John Chadwick.
William Roberts. William Bentley. James Burton.
John Buckley. John Williamson. James Schofield.
Many quaint old echoes come down to us from the
days of the " Old Brigade." On one occasion the men
were busy re-painting the apparatus with " startling
vermilion," and had the engines in pieces, and whilst
one man was painting the ladders two others were
daubing the wheels, and a third party engaged on the
body of the engine. Suddenly the bell in the turret
on the engine house rang out its summons, " A fire at
Ashton." The engines were put together, ladders,
wheels, wet paint and all, and away they went. When
the fire was extinguished and the engines had returned,
it was discovered that one of the wheel- axles had " never
had the lynch-pin put in."
Another interesting item gleaned from the old records
runs as follows : —
November 2nd, 1832. " That Jacob Waterhouse,
who supplied a horse for the fire engine at the fire of
Messrs. Ashton, Newton, and who had his leg broken,
have £1 given to him for the use of his horse."
LOCAL GLEANINGS 163
The supply of water in case of emergency was obtained
from the river, as will be seen by the following resolution
of 3rd June, 1829 • —
" That better approaches to the river be provided for
the supply of water in case of fire, and for other pur-
Within the memory of many these approaches to the
river existed, to the number of six or seven in Market
About 30 years ago, 1877, the " Old Lock-ups,"
which had been the headquarters of the fire brigade
from its origination, were discarded, the appliances being
removed into the " Old Market," or the basement of
the Town Hall, and there remained housed until placed
in the present Fire Station, which is erected on the best
site that for the purpose exists in the town, the fact
being due to some extent to the influence of one at
least on the responsible committee, who knows every
inch of the town, and who from his youth was always
to the fore at the first clang of the " Old Fire Bell."
Since the year 1828 the list of the oflicers in charge
of the fire brigade is as follows : —
John Cheetham . . 1828
Edward Garside, 1831-32
Thomas Blakeley. . 1836
David Illingworth.. 1852
William Chadwick.. 1863
James Hellawell .
Thomas Phillips .
John Bates. .
164 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The foresight of our local authorities of late years,
shown in the provision of well-designed headquarters
and thoroughly up-to-date appliances, has been pro-
ductive of a feeling of security, and a knowledge that
in the hour of need and danger efficient help will be
Local Institutions and Movements.
The Mechanics' Institution — Its First Home —Migration and
Growth — Projected Institution — Prehminary Meetings and Result
— The Reahsation.
" Permanent and valuable auxiliaries to popular instruction."
THE MECHANICS' INSTITUTION.
mHE origination of Mechanics' Institutions is said
to be the work of Dr. Birkbeck, and it is gratifying
to know the village of Stalybridge was one of the first
places in the Kingdom to adopt the idea. On the 7th
September, 1825, there was established a society which in
later years, became known as the Stalybridge Mechanics'
Institution. The name which it bore at its commence-
ment was " A Society for Mutual Instruction," under
which modest designation the germ of a Hterary and
philosophical institution was discoverable. A con-
siderable stock of scientific apparatus was rapidly
obtained, and classes for instruction in arithmetic, mathe-
l66 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
matics, music, geology were formed. The first home
of the Society was in the attics, or top storey of some
cottages nearly opposite the White House Hotel, in
Shepley Street. In this place lectures and essays were
given, whilst a " reading room " was established in
another building in Queen Street or King Street.
According to Edwin Butterworth's publication of 1841 :
" The number of members in 1840 was 64, or only one
in every 300 of the population." The Institution,
after a period of some years, migrated across the town
to a room in Bennett Street, from whence, through the
efforts of Robert Piatt, Esq., another move was made
to a house in Grosvenor Street, now used as the
Relieving Offices. Here the Society remained for a
long time, and doubtless beneath that roof the desire
for more commodious premises had its inception ; the
idea was fostered, and the result was as follows : —
On Tuesday evening, December 20th, i860, a meeting
was held to promote the scheme, in the Court Room of
the Stalybridge Town Hall.
There was not a large assembly. The number present
included Alderman Robert Hopwood, Councillor Ralph
Bates, j\Ir. John Ridgway, Mr. John Marsland, Mr.
Ralph Ashton, Mr. William Storrs, Mr. Samuel Nield,
Mr. Bamford, Mr. Walter Kenyon, Mr. Thomas Kirkman,
Mr. James Kirk, Mr. John Quarmby, Mr. William Wood,
Mr. Bamford was voted to the chair, and Mr. Walter
Kenyon moved the following resolution : — " That the
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I67
important town of Stalybridge, with its numerous
population, and increasing prosperity, ought to possess
a more eUgible and commodious building for the purpose
of a Mechanics' Institution."
Speeches followed by Councillor Ralph Bates, Mr.
John Ridgway, Mr. William Storrs, Mr. James Kirk,
Mr. John Quarmby and Mr. W. Wood. Resolutions
were proposed and adopted, and at the close of the
meeting the Chairman announced that Robert Piatt,
Esq., had promised ;f200, Councillor Ralph Bates £50,
and Mr. James Kirk, on behalf of the firm he was con-
nected with, ;fioo. The news was welcomed with great
On the 25th January, 1861, a deputation consisting
of Councillor Ralph Bates, Mr. James Kirk and Mr.
Ralph Ashton, waited upon F. D. P. Astley, Esq.,
Dukinfield Eodge, explained the scheme, and sought
his aid. Mr. Astley immediately promised a piece of
land in High Street, and supplemented it with a donation
On the I2th March, 1861, a meeting was held in the
Town Hall under the chairmanship of Mr. Ralph Ashton.
Mr. James Kirk announced that subscriptions had
already been received and promised amounting to
£1,734. Councillor Ralph Bates, in a rousing speech,
proposed the following : — " That this meeting is of
opinion that the subscriptions already promised justify
us in taking immediate steps towards the erection of a
new building, one calculated to meet the wants of this
thriving and populous borough."
l68 BYGONE STALY BRIDGE
A further resolution was as follows : — " That the
following gentlemen form the Building Committee : —
Robert Piatt, Esq., T. Harrison, Esq., John Leech,
Esq., Councillor Ralph Bates, Alderman Hopwood,
Mr. J. Kirk, Mr. J. Marsland, Mr. G. Taylor, Mr. G.
Gimson, Mr.W.T. Churchill, Mr. J. Taylor, Mr. R. Ashton,
Mr. J. Ridgway, Mr. J. Bamford, Mr. W. Burnley, Mr.
W. Bass, and Mr. H. Johnson."
On the 13th April, 1861, it was announced that the
Building Committee had accepted the design of Messrs.
Blackwell and Sons, of Manchester, for the proposed
The estimate for the erection of the building was
accepted on the 4th June, 1861, the cost to be £2,950,
the contractors being Messrs. Greenup and Company,
The foundation stone was laid on the 17th August,
1861, by David Harrison, Esq., amid public rejoicings.
During his speech Mr. Harrison said : "I have lived
in this town lor sixty-three or sixty-four years, and I
remember when the spot where I now stand was nothing
but green fields."
The building was completed and opened in July,
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS IDQ
The Volunteer Movement— The Astley Rifle Corps— The
First Muster-RoU— Past Officers— The Roll of Honour— Retired
" Defence not Detiance."
THE ASTLEY RIFLE CORPS.
*^^HE Volunteer Movement in Stalybridge had its
xz) birth during the period when England was shadow-
ed by the threatening war cloud of 1859-60. The offer of
the Government was " That if Volunteers would equip
themselves with uniform and arms, and supply them-
selves with mihtary instructors, at their own expense,
the State would avail itself of their services."
To the astonishment of the whole world, and the
surprise of England herself, though the cost was said
to mean about £S per man, 100,000 men ejirolled them-
selves as volunteers almost immediately, under the
motto of " Defence, not Defiance."
It must in all fairness be said that the local movement
owed its inception to a number of Dukinfield gentlemen,
at the head of whom was Francis Dukinfield Palmer
Astley, Esq. PreHminary meetings were held, and
finally a pubHc meeting, at which a large number of
Stalybridge gentlemen unexpectedly presented them-
selves. Advertisements, placards and hand-bills were
issued for the purpose of furthering the movement,
170 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
which soon assumed practical shape. Young men were
invited to join, and those so wilhng were referred for
further information to : —
Captain Astley, Deputy Lieut., Dukiniield Lodge.
Lieut. C. J. Ashton, J. P., Newton House, Newton.
Ensign Thomas Bazley Hall, Stalybridge.
Mr. Ralph Bates, J. P., Stalybridge.
Mr. Charles Woolnough, M.A., Dukinfield.
Mr. George E. Hyde, Dukinfield.
Mr. Joseph Adamson, Newton Moor.
Mr. Alfred Aspland, Hon. Sec, Dukinfield.
The young men of the district flocked to the cause
and gave in their names, and though the majority have
answered " The Last Roll Call," there are still a few of
" The Old Brigade " left.
THE FIRST MUSTER ROLL OF THE ASTLEY RIFLE
January 3rd, i860, Mr. Astley was sworn in at the
ofhce of Mr. Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne. The following
persons were sworn in by Captain De HoUyngworth, at
the Temperance Hall, Dukinfield, January 6th, i860 : —
Charles James Ashton.
Thomas Bazley Hall . .
Charles Woolnough. .
Thomas Boothroyd .
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS
Astley Rifle Corps, First
Basil Hall . . . . 21
William Hyde . . 21
Sydney Hyde . . . . 19
Herbert Hyde . . 20
Ralph Bates . . . . 29
Henry Hyde . . 22
Robert Aspland . . 18
Lees Aspland . . 17
John Buckley Brierley 22
Percy Brierley . . 19
Samuel Hill . . . . 21
Lewis Lees . . • • 44
Thomas Borsey . . 18
Joseph Travis . . 24
G. E. Hyde . . . . 24
Allen Kenworthy . . 28
William Hibbert . . 21
Edward Smith . . 19
John Witehead . . 31
John Perrin . . . . 18
James Bradbury . . 21
Robert White . . 30
Benjamin Lowe . . 21
John Derbyshire . . 40
Robert Hollingworth 32
John Shaw . . • . 23
John Wagstaffe . . 19
Alfred Fenwick . . 24
Muster Roll — Continued.
Thomas Cheetham . . 23
James Munday . . 22
David Illingworth . . 26
Thomas Hodgkinson . . 22
T. C. W. Gatley . . 25
James Woolley . . 25
Joseph Tillon . . 45
David Taylor . . 25
John Bridgehouse . . 21
Walter Cottrell . . 21
William Ashworth . . 23
Joe Beaumont . . 19
Isaac Wheeldon . . 43
Alfred Johnson . . 28
Francis Ditchfield . . 38
T. G. Cunningham . . 18
John Reece . . 18
Edward T. Atkinson . 19
Joseph Adamson . . 18
Elias Oldfield . . 32
Samuel Stansfield . . 21
George Thompson . . 24
William Andrews . . 40
Joseph Corbet . . 34
James Bentley . . 28
Lewis Warhurst . . 22
James Clayton . . 21
Samuel Perrin . . 20
Astley Rifle Corps
Muster Roll— Continued.
Nathaniel Howard .
Edward Chadwick .
Wright — ..
John H. Schofield .
Henry Bridgehouse .
James Cooke . .
The self sacrifice and enthusiasm of the local pioneers
of the Volunteer Movement undoubtedly laid the
foundation from, w^hence arose the patriotic spirit which
bore fruit in the hour of need. In the dark days of 1899,
when England had to face the inevitable struggle in
South Africa, and friends were none too many, from no
town in the Kingdom when the supreme moment
arrived was the response more firm than from Staly-
bridge. A fitting tribute adorns the wall of the large
Drill Hall, at Stalybridge, inscribed as follows : —
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I73
A ROLL OF HONOUR.
TO THEIR LASTING CREDIT
STALYBRIDGE AND DUKINFIELD VOLUNTEERS
SERVED IN SOUTH AFRICA
WITH THE 2ND BATTALION OF THE CHESHIRE REGIMENT
IN THE BOER WAR
FROM I3TH JANUARY, I9OO, TO 30TH APRIL, I9OI.
Lieut. J. Bates.
Cr. Sgt.J. McConnell.
Sgt. W. Lees.
Cpl. J. Giblin.
Cpl. H. Hodgkinson.
Pte. A. M. Alexander. Pte. J. Hill.
,, R. Bowers. ,, G. Wadsworth.
,, B. Grimshaw.
FROM 4TH FEBRUARY, IQOI, TO 28tH MAY, I902.
Cpl. T. Hilton. Pte. L. Byrne. Pte. J. O'Neil.
Pte. T. Batty. „ J. Cox. „ B. O'Neil.
,, J. Brown. ,, T.Davenport. Bug.J.Cheetham.
„ H. Buckley. „ H. Hilton.
FROM I7TH FEBRUARY, I902, TO 2ND AUGUST, I902.
Capt. J.Bates. Pte. H. Hodgkinson.
Sgt. J.T. W.Dayton. „ S. Holliday.
G. Holt. „ J. Howard.
L.-Sgt.W. Shires. „ J. Leech.
Roll of Honour, 17th Feb.
Cpl. W. Whitehead.
L.-Cpl. E. Bradbury.
Pte. H. Addy.
J. H. Hall.
1902, toAus^. 1902-Continued.
W. T. Royle.
J. H. Swift.
J. H. Swindells.
THE ABOVE TABLET IS THE GIFT OF RALPH
BATES, ESQ., J. P., FORMERLY
CAPTAIN IN THIS DETACHMENT.
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS
The following past Officers of the vStalybridge
Detachment of the 4th V.B. Cheshire Regiment have,
at this date (1907), answered the " Last Roll Call" : —
Year of First Commission
and Rank then held.
F. D. P. Astley,
G. E. Adshead,
C. J. Ashton,
Canon R. H. Brow
I. Knott Clayton,
T. B. Hall,
W. F. Hopwood,
G. E. Hyde,
Hon. Surg, i860
Sub. -Lieut. 1874
n, Actg.Chapl. 1884 Actg.Chapl. 1887
Surg. Lieut. i8go Surg. Lieut. iSgi
Year ot resignation
and Rank then held.
Lieut. Col. 1868
Lieut. Col. 1869
Hon. Surg. 1880
Actg. Surg. 1884 Surg.-Lieut. 1892
Hon. Surg. 1864 Surg.Major,v.D 1883
RETIRED (surviving) COMMANDING OFFICERS.
Major and Hon. Lieut.Col. A. Sidebottom,v.D. 1872-1894
Capt. and Hon. Major J. Schofield, v.d. 1874-1896
Lieut. Col. and Hon. Col. G. Pearson, v.d. 187S-1904
176 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
The Stalybridge Old Band — The Stalybridge Ancient Shep-
herds Band— The Stalybridge Harmonic Society— The Stalybridge
" The man that hath no music in himself, and is not moved with concord of
sv/eet sounds is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils."
THE STALYBRIDGE OLD BAND.
^^T'BOUT the year 1809-10, a number of working
^t 1 t lads formed a " Musical Band," and having
obtained permission, held meetings and rehearsals in a
cellar behind the " Golden Fleece." The contribution of
the members was "threepence per week," and the founder
of the society is recorded as being Thomas Avison, who
was then 14 years of age. After a year or two the band,
having in the meantime obtained several instruments,
collapsed, but was re-organised in 18 12, when the
members agreed to pay " 5s. down and two shillings
a week, until they had a good band." The first turn-out
of the young musicians was on the Monday before Easter
Sunday, 1814 ; the players were six in number, the
instruments being as follows : " Two Clarinets, two
Flutes, one Bassoon, and a big Drum." Armed with
a manuscript book which "cost threepence," and on the
front page of which a very elaborate appeal for support
had been written, the band sallied forth, and proceeding
to the residence of Robert Lees, Esq., Dukinfield,
received their first subscription, viz., " a one pound
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS 177
note ; " Mr. Astley, of Dukinfield Lodge, gave them
£2 2s., and up to the time of his death remained a good
supporter ; other gentlemen subscribed, and the amount
collected was £2^. An additional £12 was obtained in
various ways, encouraging the musicians to further
efforts. The band was now firmly established, new
instruments were purchased, and the playing members
were as follows : J. HoUingworth, J. Cottrell, J. Harrison,
A. Barker, S. Walker, J. Harrison, J. France, P.
Greenwood, A. Lawton, S. Cottrell, H. Nield, J. Booth,
T. Avison, J. Lawton, T. France, W. Cottrell, J.
Buckley, G. Piatt, and J. Sidebottom.
Engagements followed, and the Stalybridge Band
filled many appointments from time to time, perhaps
the most notable being on the occasion of Henry Hunt's
entry into Manchester on the day of the meeting
which terminated in the historical " Peterloo Massacre "
The Stalybridge Old Band has a record such as few
similar societies can boast, for at one period of its career
it was absolutely second to none in the Kingdom. Con-
test after contest saw them victorious, and their name
and fame were known wherever the English language
was spoken. Between the years 1859 and 1882 the
total amount won by the band was £1,449 S^-. of which
the years 1874-5-6-7 yielded m^ 14s. For many
years it was the custom to hold grand concerts, when
some of the finest singers and musicians of the day were
engaged, regardless of expense. The abilities and
traditions of the society are weU known, and with a
178 BYGONE STAL ABRIDGE
repetition of the support which was given to them in times
past, the latent talent of its members would assuredly
and undoubtedly assert itself and make the towns-
people once more proud of the Stalybridge Old Band.
THE ANCIENT SHEPHERDS' BAND.
The Stalybridge Ancient Shepherds' Reed Band was
established in the year 1832, and was composed of
working men w^ho were members of the Ancient Order
of Shepherds Friendly Society.
The following Lodges which then formed the '' Staly-
bridge District " each subscribed a certain sum of money
towards the cost of the instruments required, viz. :
"The Noah's Ark," "Good Intent," "Free WiU,"
"Loyal Abel No. i," "Piety No. 140," "Loyal Con-
fidence No. 46," " Industry No. 30," " Triumphant
No. 98," " Providence No. 47," " Loyal Abraham
No. 4," " Loyal Laban, Stayley." On the 25th July,
1832, a selection committee was deputed to go to Man-
chester, when they purchased from Mr. Cowlan, a
dealer in musical instruments, the following : " Four
Clarinets, three Flutes, one Key Bugle, two Slide
Horns, one Trumpet, two Trombones, and one Bass
Horn." The cost of the instruments was £36, of which
£22 was then paid, it being agreed that the remainder
should be paid by instalments of /2 per month. Every
player, upon joining the band, pledged himself to pay
the sum of £3 los., and when he had done so he was
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I79
accredited a '"' full member." Mr. William Woolley,
who was one of the prime movers in the formation of
the Band, was originally a '' Celloist," and was also a
Clarionet player in the Old Band, which was at one time
a Reed Band. Mr. Woolley was selected as leader,
and occupied that position for nearly thirty years.
The original members of the Band were the following :
Thomas Avison, Robert Lawton, James Lawton, John
Nield, James Booth, James Crosby, Wilham Band,
Robert Winterbottom, William Woolley, Robert
Etchells, Samuel Nield, Walter Garside, Edward Woolley,
James Nield, Hugh Broadbent, and James Swindells.
A quaint entry in one of the Band's records is as
follows : —
" Moved and seconded that any player calling Avison
names shall be fined sixpence, and if he doesn't pay,
that the same be stopped out of his contributions."
THE STALYBRIDGE HARMONIC SOCIETY.
The origination of this society was the result of a
dispute at the King Street Chapel, between the choir
and minister, through which the principal part of the
choir left that place of worship, but, being desirous of
keeping up the standard of their abilities as musicians,
they agreed to practise at each other's houses until
such times as they might be able to obtain a settled
abode. These homely rehearsals went on, until the
members gained confidence, and it was decided to form
l80 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
a musical society, to which was given the title of " The
Stalybridge Harmonic Society ; " the date is given as
July, 1844. As the membership increased, a deputation
was appointed to wait upon the Rev. T. Floyd, vicar
of Holy Trinity, who allowed them to practise in the
Castle Hall Schoolroom, then situated next to the
" Castle Inn." The society went with the school when
it migrated to the Foresters' Hall, and again when the
new Castle Hall schools were erected, at which place
the rehearsals were held until the Educational Authorities
required the room for their own use.
The first members included the following : Samuel
Garhck, Hugh Piatt, Samuel Ashton, John Goddard,
Dan Downs, John Downs, W. H. Garlick, John Brad-
bury, Allen Avison, John Avison, Amanda Lee, Elizabeth
Garlick, Martha Sunderland, and others.
The first public performance was given in the Foresters*
Hall, from which time the society appeared annually.
As the society grew it became more ambitious, and
Handel's oratorio of *' Samson " was performed in
Stalybridge Tow^n Hall, followed successively by
" Judas Maccabaeus," " Joshua," " Solomon," " The
Redemption," and " Israel in Egypt." Following these
productions came Mendelssohn's " Elijah," " St. Paul,"
" Hymn of Praise," and a great number of minor works.
In later years the society produced a number of operas
and operettas, viz., " Robin Hood," " Martha,"
" Masaniello," " Olivette," " Rip Van Winkle," etc.,
with full spectacular effects.
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS l8l
The first musical conductor was Samuel Garlick,
who held the position until his death, March 22, 1885,
his successor being Alexander Owen, who was appointed
in April,i885, resigned March 13, 1892, and was succeeded
in the following May by the present conductor, Mr.
The following were the chief supporters of the society
in its early days : Rev. W. W. Hoare, Rev. Thomas
Floyd, Robert Piatt, Esq., John Cheetham, Esq., Henry
Bayley, Esq., David Harrison, Esq., Abel Harrison,
Esq., James Wilkinson, Esq., Dr. Hopwood, and
Ralph Bates, Esq.
THE BORO' BAND.
This Band was founded in March, 1871, and held its
first meetings and rehearsals at the Moulders' Arms,
Grasscroft Street, its first secretary being Mr. Dan
The requisite instruments were subscribed for by
honorary members, and subsequently purchased from
Mr. Joseph Higham, Manchester, the first consignment
being delivered at the headquarters of the band " on
The founder and first conductor was Mr. Alexander
Owen, who still holds the office, and is deeply interested
in the welfare of the society. The first playing members
were as follows : A. Owen, J. A. Schofield, W. Schofield,
H. Schofield, John Wild, J. Speke, S. Tootill, R. Mellor,
l82 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
J. Melior, W. Swift, and W. Barnes. So rapid was the
growth in efficiency of the players that they took part
in a contest at Belle Vue, in 1872, and from this time
forth few amateur bands were more successful in the
contesting field, for when they had been in existence
little more than two years, at a contest at Kingston,
Hyde, they came second to Meltham, gaining a prize
of /20, and beating the famous Black Dyke Band.
Some time later at Pemberton they defeated " Besses-
o'-th'-Barn," and at Lindley, the celebrated " Leeds
Forge." In October, 1888, at a contest at the Irish
Exhibition, London, the band won the highest value
in prizes ever brought to the town, viz., £42 in cash and
one B Flat Tenor Trombone, value £14 14s. Many of
the instruments used by the players to-day are the
trophies of bygone victories, several having been won
single-handed by Mr. Owen, his first '' prize cornet "
being a cherished relic.
For 25 years the Band was known as the 4th C.R.V.
(Boro' Band). Its founder and conductor wrote several
special marches for the Band, including " Edith,"
" Silver Moonlight Winds are Blowing," and the "Boro."
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS 183
The Aged People's Tea Party— The First Committee, Friends,
and Supporters — The Foresters' Hall — The Thespian Society of
1814 — Ridge Hill Lanes Institute.
" Learn to live well, that thou may'st die so too,
To live and die is all we have to do."
Sir John Denham.
THE AGED PEOPLE'S TEA PARTY.
V I f HE origination of this annual festival had its birth
J ^ I in the minds of a few working men, chiefly Odd-
fellows connected with the "Widow and Orphans' Fund."
A committee was formed, subscriptions sought, and
the response being encouraging, enabled the promoters
to provide a suitable tea and entertainment for the old
folk of both sexes who had attained the age of " three
score years and ten." The committee consisted of the
following : —
Henry Higginbottom. George Garside. John Tymms.
Jonathan Sanderson. Joshua Saxon. John Slack.
Ben Bright. Jer'h. Walton. Geo. Chappel.
John Mather. David Cooper.
Alfred Nield, Chairman. Wilham Ward, Vice-chairman.
Thomas Hodson, Secretary. Betty Worral, Treasurer.
The list of subscriptions is still in existence. The sum
collected was ;f26 is., in sums ranging from is. to £1,
and there is scarcely a well-known name of the time
184 BYGONE 5TAI.YBRIDGE
The party was held in the Stalybridge Town Hall,
on New Year's Day, i860. The Stalybridge Old Band
and a party of Glee Singers were in attendance. The
Mayor, Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Esq., presided,
being supported by Alderman Hopwood, Councillor
Bates, Henry Bayley, Esq., Rev. J. R. Stephens, Mr.
lowerth Davis, Mr. Abel Swann, Mr. Samuel Hurst
(the champion of England), etc., etc.
The guests thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of their
friends, and mingling music, jest, and speech-making
together, the first " Old Folks' Tea Party " passed
pleasantly over, inaugurating the series of annual parties
which have been continued to the present time.
THE FORESTERS' HALL.
About the year 1835, the members of the Foresters'
Lodges in Stalybridge District, viz. : " Felicity, Justice,
Forest Oak, Laurel Leaf, St. George, and Decision,
comprising about 420 persons, decided to erect a
building to be known as the " Foresters' Hall." A
building committee was formed, consisting of the
following persons : — ^J. Faulkner, J. Hampson, John
Hallsworth, H. Derby, J. Bates, J. Bold, J. Wood, G.
Chadwick, J. Cowgill, A. Harrop, J. Chadwick, J. Lee,
R. Howard, W. Ouarmby, J. Bradbury, and J. Green-
halch. The plans of the building were drawn by John
Hallsworth. The cost was £2,200, defrayed by the
contributions of the " Foresters."
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS 185
The foundation stone was laid on Monday, July 25th,
1836, and the proceedings are alluded to as follows : —
" A procession of the various Orders in the town
assembled on the New Road to the New Market or Town
Hall, when they were arranged as follows -.—Three
gentlemen on horseback, the stone-layer or spokesman,
the building committee of the Order, the stone getters,
the stone masons, the joiners. Band, the Independent
Order of Oddfellows, the Ancient Druids, the Modern
Druids, Band, the Loyal Ancient Shepherds, the
Gardeners and the Foresters."
The building was completed and opened with cere-
mony. During the Christmas and New Year Holidays,
1848-9, a memorable entertainment and exhibition of
oil paintings, curiosities, etc., was held at this place.
At one period there was a large organ, a splendid library,
and night schools in connection with the Order at this
THE THESPIAN SOCIETY OF 1814.
The following gleaning is of interest to the patrons
of the drama: — There was one society in those days
which deserves a passing notice. It had for its object
the improvement of the elocutionary powers of its
members. Known locally as " The Thespian Society,"
it was also denominated " The Spouting Club," and its
membership comprised about a dozen individuals,
including the following : — John Lees, William Binns,
Thomas Kenworthy, John Bramall, Ezra Marsland,
1 86 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
George Smith, Alfred Cheetham, John Wardle, John
Taylor, and others. John Lees was the scene painter,
whilst William Binns was the stage carpenter. The
society gave periodical public performances in the club
room of the Angel Inn. The price of admission was
usually a shilling, and the local gentrj^ patronised the
entertainments, which were generally of a Shakes-
perian character. One of the drawbacks of the society
was that they could never entice the fair sex to join
them as memxbers, and were thus compelled to engage
professional ladies from the Manchester theatres.
When rehearsing a new play for production, it w^as
the custom of the members to visit Manchester and
witness a public performance of the same, which meant
walking to Ashton, boarding the coach, and journeying
to the theatre, returning to Stalybridge earl}^ next
RIDGE HILL LANE INSTITUTE.
This institution was founded about i860, and in the
early days of 1861 had reached a position which enabled
its members to pass the following resolution : — ^January
i6th, 1861. " Moved by Mr. W. Moores and seconded
by T. Barnes, that Messrs. J. Miller, R. Mills, G. Nuttall,
J. Duffy and T. Warburton form a deputation to wait
upon Messrs. D. and T. Harrison, and request as a
favour the granting of a more commodious place for
the members to meet in." The title of the society
became the "Ridge Hill Lane Working Men's Institute,
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS 187
Library and Reading Room, established February i6th,
1861." The first officers were the following: — President,
T. A. Harrison ; Patron, D, Harrison, Esq. Committee,
J. Lomas, T. Barnes, W. Moores, J. Duffy, C. Nuttall,
J. Miller, J. Mitchell, R. Mills, J. Knott, T. James,
The Institution possesses a museum and library,
and has also a microscope for the use of its members,
A very interesting relic hangs upon the walls,
being the original design for the Jethro Tinker Memorial,
the working committee of which had its inception and
held the majority of its meetings in this Institution,
under the chairmanship of Samuel Hill.
The Stamford Park Movement — Newspaper Correspondence —
Preliminary Meetings — Opposition — List of Subscriptions — Opening
by Lord Stamford — Turnover to the Corporations.
" There is a volume of associations in the very name."
THE STAMFORD PARK MOVEMENT.
V^^HE scheme of a '' Pubhc Park for the District"
y^J originated on the J2th July, 1855, exactly
eighteen years before Stamford Park was opened by the
Earl of Stamford and Warrington. In the "Reporter" of
that date a leading article deals with the idea, and on
the 22nd of September following, a writer under the
nom-de-plume of " Nil Desperandum " requested the
l88 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
editor of the " Reporter " ''to persist in his advocacy
of a pubhc park."
On the 3rd May, 1856, Mr. H. Roche, of 56, Margaret
Street, Henry Square, Ashton-under-Lyne, again opened
the question. On the 7th June, the " Reporter " helped
the idea by means of its columns. During the ensuing
week the meeting room of the Young Men's Improve-
ment Society, in connection with St. Peter's Church,
Ashton-under-Lyne, was placed at the service of the
public, and a meeting was held.
On the i6th June a meeting of working men was
held in the Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall, Mr. J.
Farron in the chair. Speeches and suggestions were
made, and the meeting was of a most interesting
character. The idea, however, met with bitter opposi-
tion, which was parried by a stirring address to the
people. One paragraph is quoted to show the spirit
of determination possessed by the promoters.
"We want a park .... a spot upon God's earth that
we can call our own ; where our lads may pitch their
wickets, and our girls hang their swings, and where
the less nimble may toss the quoit, and roll the bowl,
without fear of action for trespass."
Month followed month with suggestions and criticisms
— ^they trod upon each other's heels. Meetings were
held, an official committee appointed, and subscription
books were issued to those desirous of collecting funds
for the object in view.
In the " Reporter " for the 15th June, 1857, the
amount subscribed is published, viz., £2^$ i8s. 8d.
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS 189
On the 27th March, 1858, a letter addressed to the
Editor of the " Reporter," by H. T. Darnton, Esq.,
mentioned the ''Samuel Oldham" bequests, but from
some cause or other the scheme became dormant ; it
may be that the impending American War affected it
After the lapse of many years the idea was again revived
by H. T. Darnton, Esq. The Highfield Estate was on
sale, and thought to be a suitable place for a park,
so Mr. Darnton communicated his idea to Mr. Joseph
Shawcross, of Stalybridge, and that gentleman ventilated
the matter amongst his friends and fellow- townsmen.
The result was that after an interval of about thirteen
years the scheme was revived, and in June, 1871, we
find references once more to " The Public Park."
It was stated that the " Oldham Bequest " was still
obtainable, that *' £7,000 " was waiting, the additional
warning being also given, " that a purchase must be
made before September 5th, 1871."
On the I2th August, 1871, a local writer took up the
question, and appealed to " The People of Stalybridge
to co-operate and hold a public meeting without delay."
It is said that the " Talbot Inn " was the place
where a few working men foregathered and discussed
A chairman, Mr. Harrison, was appointed, and the
following names submitted as gentlemen fitted to form
a deputation representing the town in a proposed
interview with the Earl of Stamford and Warrington : —
The Mayor, John Hyde, Esq., J. J. Wilkinson, Esq.,
James Kirk, Esq., John Ridgway, Esq., Ralph Bates,
igO BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Esq., Robert Hopwood, Esq., J. F. Cheetham, Esq.,
and Thomas Harrison, Esq.
On the i6th August, 1871, a deputation representing
Ashton-under-Lyne, Dukinfield and Stalybridge waited
upon Lord Stamford at the Old Hall, Ashton-under-Lyne.
His Lordship received them and listened attentively,
and in reply undertook to " remit the chief rent on the
Highfield Estate," and further, " offered a tract of land
upon very easy terms."
In conclusion the Earl said: — "Do not think of
failure by any means ; go on and do what you can, and
if you do not raise as much money as you could wish —
see me again."
Another meeting was held at Stalybridge, this time
at ''The Angel Inn," at which R. P. Whitworth
presided. An appeal was made for subscriptions to
cover preliminary printing expenses, in response to
which the sum of £^0 was placed before the Chairman
in a few minutes.
The next important move was a Public Meeting,
called " by requisition " in the Town Hall, Stalybridge,
August 24th, 1871. The Mayor, John Hyde, Esq.,
occupied the chair. Letters were read from J. R.
Coulthart, Esq., Ralph Bates, Esq., etc. Mr. Benjamin
Rigby moved a resolution embodying a number of
suggestions and ideas, which was carried unanimously.
Mr. James Saville, Mr James France, Mr. Joseph
Shawcross, Mr. J. Cocker, Mr. George Cheetham, and
Councillor Burnley were appointed to represent Staly-
bridge on the Joint Provisional Park Committee. The
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS
Mayor, John Hyde, Esq., consented to act as their
Chairman, and Mr. Allen Harrison was appointed
permanent secretary. Keen opposition manifested
itself, which only served to bind the promoters more
firmly together. On the 13th April, 1872, the well-
wishers and workers for the movement were sent into
ecstasy by the announcement that " Francis Dukinfield
Astley, Esq., had requested the Trustees of his estate
to hand over the sum of ;f2,ooo, as a proof of his sym-
pathy with the scheme."
The Executive Committee, therefore, issued the
following list of subscriptions, which had already been
promised : —
Francis Dukinfield Astley, Esq..
Henry Thomas Darnton, Esq.
Thomas Walton Mellor, Esq., M
William Leech, Esq.
George Heginbottom, Esq.
George Mellor, Esq.
John Chadwick, Esq.
Rev. Thomas Radley
Joseph Fletcher, Esq.
Nathaniel Buckley, Esq., M.P.
Ralph Bates, Esq.
Thomas Heginbottom, Esq.
B. M. Kenworthy, Esq. . .
Booth Mason, Esq.
William Bass, Esq.
192 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
J. J. Wilkinson, Esq.
Working Men of vStalybridge
April 20 —
B. M. Kenworthy, Esq
Frank Andrew, Esq.
Jabez Waterhouse, Esq. . .
Rev. Thomas Eagar
May II —
Waterside Mill Company. . . . 50 o o
MissMellor.. .. .. .. 50 o o
In July the total sum subscribed amounted to nearly
On the I2th of July, 1873, the ideal of the promoters
became a fact.
'' Stamford Park," the dream of years, was at last a
reality. Ashton-under-Lj^ne and Stalybridge were, for
once at least, united. Processions, with bands of music,
were the order of the day. The Stalybridge Town
Council met at one o'clock and held a special meeting
in the Council Chamber, when formal resolutions were
passed, and the common seal attached to the two
Illuminated Addresses which had been prepared for
presentation to Lord Stamford and F. D. Astley, Esq.
The Mayor, Ralph Bates, Esq., accompanied by the
Aldermen, Councillors, and Corporation officials, and a
procession composed of all sections of the community
proceeded to the Park (joining a similar procession from
Ashton-under-Lyne) where the memorable ceremony of
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I93
Opening was performed amidst the cheers and acclamations
of a deUghted multitude, by Lord and Lady Stamford,
and F. D. Astley, Esq. We quote from a record of the
time, as follows : —
" Liberals, Tories, Radicals, and Whigs ; Monarchists
and Republicans ; Religious Men and Atheists ; all
forgot their differences and united to make the town
as gay as possible."
The day's rejoicings and demonstrations reached their
last stage in the evening, when a Banquet was held in
the large Drill Hall at Ashton-under-Lyne.
Some 500 gentlemen met and dined together, after
which Lord and Lady Stamford, F. D. Astley, Esq.,
Sir Willoughby Jones, and others joined the assembly,
and speech-making was the order of the hour.
A final effort was the monstre Bazaar, which was held
in the Ashton Drill Hall, the financial result of which
surprised even the most sanguine of its promoters.
The magnificent sum of £4,750 was obtained from the
Bazaar, for the benefit of Stamford Park.
Amongst those who worked hard in the rank and file
on the Executive Committee were the following : —
AUen Harrison, Secretary ; Benjamin Rigby, Joseph
Shawcross, James Saville, Samuel Cooper, — Hibbert,
John Heap, James Hill, John Burton, Samuel Shaw,
T. Bullen, and many others.
A distinguishing badge worn by the Joint Committee
was a circular disc made of black morocco leather in-
scribed in gilt letters with the words : " Stamford Park
Committee; Ashton, Stalybridge and District." A
194 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
later Joint Committee was composed of the following : —
George Mellor, Chairman ; Allen Harrison, Secretary ;
W. H. Waterhouse, B. B. Kenworthy, Ralph Bates,
H. T. Darnton, Robert Stanley, Mark Fentem, Squire
Farron, Benjamin Rigby, James France, John Duffy,
Abel Swann, Edward France, John Kiddy.
There are only three survivors of the Stalybridge
section of this Committee to-day — Benjamin Rigby,
Robert Stanley, J. P., and Mark Fentem, J. P.
Stamford Park was " taken over " on the 13th July,
1891, by the Corporations of Stalybridge and Ashton-
under-Lyne. The extent of the land within its boundaries
to-day is given as about 63 acres. Originally the greater
part of the Park was in the Borough of Stalybridge, but
the addition of the portion known as the "Dingle" almost
balanced the acreage in the respective boroughs, viz.,
30 acres in Stalybridge, and 33 acres in Ashton-under-
Considering the close proximity of the numerous
manufactories and mills, Stamford Park may be fairly
reckoned as one of the prettiest and most attractive
public parks in the North of England, and it would have
been gratifying to those who worked hard for the move-
ment years ago to have known that their labours for the
public good had achieved such a grand result. The present
Joint Committee and the officials are to be complimented
on their supervision and work, and, although there is
at present no tribute within the precincts of Stamford
Park to the memory of its originators and benefactors,
the time will come when a suitable memorial shall
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I95
reveal the facts to the visitor and enquiring stranger.
The '' Samuel Oldham Bequest," the exertions of H. T.
Darnton, Esq., and the munificent gifts of Lord Stam-
ford and F. D. Astley, Esq., are in themselves worthy
oi grateful remembrance in marble and gold.
The Co-operative Movement — Formation of Committee —
Openinc^ of Stores — Early Struggles — Growth — Present Position.
" United we stand, divided we fall."
THE CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT.
HE Co-operative Movement as we know it came
into existence about the year 1844. A number of
working men in the town of Rochdale formed a society,
the history of which, under the title of " The Rochdale
Pioneers," was written by George Jacob Holyoake, Esq.
The scheme was nick-named " The Weaver's Dream "
by its opponents, but it has survived all ridicule, and
has become a recognised institution of the country.
Fifteen years passed before the idea was adopted in
Stalybridge, when, in the Spring of 1859, a few working
men decided to hold a meeting for the purpose of
endeavouring to form a Co-operative Society. The
date was fixed, the time appointed, and the eventful
meeting was held at the house of James Cook in Harrop
Street, Stalybridge. On the 7th March, 1859, there
196 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
assembled the following persons : Henry Pool, Alex-
ander Maxwell, Ambrose Jackson, Charles Gaskell,
Thomas Phillips, Thomas Baxter, John Peacock, Daniel
Woolley, William Haynes, Joseph Edgar, and Johanan
Booth. The business of the meeting was the appoint-
ment of the chairman, Johanan Booth, and a com-
mittee, as follows : Charles Gaskell, William Haynes,
Daniel Woolley, Alexander Maxwell and Ambrose
Jackson. Johanan Booth was appointed treasurer,
and Thomas Baxter secretary, for the time being.
It was decided '* that the shares should be £1 each,
and that no member have less than one share nor more
than five shares each. That the contributions be
brought to the house of James Cook every Monday
fortnight, betwixt the hours of 7 and 9 of the clock.
That 1,000 handbills be printed for delivery amongst
The first general meeting took place on the 21st March,
1859, when John France, Johanan Booth, and John
Bradbury were appointed Trustees, and William Haynes
and Joseph Woolhouse money stewards for the next
It was also resolved " That any officer being absent
after 7 o'clock on any meeting night be fined threepence,
to go to the incidental fund." A regular system of
meetings was inaugurated, and the membership increased
rapidly. Suitable premises were sought in which to
commence business, the shop now occupied by Mr.
Marsden, plumber. Water Street, being the place
selected. A " Special General Meeting " and election
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I97
of officers was held on June 23, 1859, at which the
following members were elected to officiate on the
" Management Committee : " Joseph Edgar, Jonathan
Blacker, Joseph Woolhouse, Charles Gaskell, John L.
Porter, James Hey wood, Daniel Woolley, Thomas Ellis,
and Joseph Allen ; Johanan Booth, Treasurer ; Thomas
Baxter, Secretary ; Alexander Maxwell and Joseph
Allsop, Auditors ; John France, Abel Frederick Wood
and James Cook, Trustees ; Robert Winterbottom and
Joseph Bailey, Money Stewards. Arbitrators, Matthew
Hutchinson, Tom Milburn, Frank Farrow, Robert
Whitehead and Nathan Pickering.
Preparations for commencing business started in
earnest. The outgoing tenant of the premises was paid
for sundry articles which he wished to leave, and the
making of shop fixtures, etc., was proceeded with chiefly
by members of the committee, one of whom proposed
" that the counters have baywood tops." Large posters
were printed and distributed announcing the opening
of the " Stores " to the public, and a shopman was
advertised for, and appointed. Travellers were invited
to call, provision merchants and tea men written to
for samples and wholesale prices, and the Society sent
its representatives to Manchester to purchase " scales,
canisters, and other utensils." The " Stores " were
opened in November, 1859, ^^"^^ ^^^ ^^^^ week's takings
amounted to the sum of £84. The old records are full
of quaint minutes and resolutions which, however,
could be of little interest to the general reader. A very
interesting memorial in connection with the early days
IQb BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
of the Society was hung in the " Jubilee Exhibition "
and was the centre of much notice, being an enlarged
photograph of the " Committee " for the years 1862-3-4.
The group was composed of the following well-known
townsmen, John Hackett, George Rushton, William
Harrison, John Ridgway, Charles Jones, Matthew
Hutchinson. Joseph Kinsey, Robert Cobham, Samuel
Hadfield (Secretary), James Lawton, John Bamford,
David Stringer and William Roberts.
, The Society had been in existence for two years when
the " Dark Hour " of the Cotton Panic arrived, for in
November, 1862, there were no less than 57,000 people
receiving relief from the Manchester Central Relief
Committee, the highest record reached during that
terrible period. The foregoing facts were unknown to
whoever wrote the following paragraph for insertion
in the quarterly report, issued in October, 1862. The
words were both plucky and prophetic.
" The Committee are happy that they are enabled
now to publish a full and correct account of the real
condition of the Society (which they are convinced has
never been done before). It may be fairly inferred that
it has now passed through its infantile diseases, and
we tlierefore feel confident that it will flourish and pay
dividends that will satisfy and benefit its members,
confound and disappoint its enemies, and make certain
individuals blush and shame that it not only survives,
but that it actuall}^ prospers after their flagrant attempts
to overthrow it The Committee are
sorr3^ that they cannot pay any dividend this time. . ."
INSTITUTIONS AND MOVEMENTS I99
Since its humble beginning the Society has progressed
and prospered to an extent never anticipated by its
founders in their wildest hopes. The '' Weaver's
Dream " has proved itself a substantial reality. From
a return issued in February, 1907, we extract the
following items : —
Number of Members, 3,666
Dividend paid in 1906, £17,608
Members' Shares, ^^49,196
Interest paid to Members, £'2,326
Persons Employed, 108
Wages Paid, /!6,332
Number of Shops and Branches, 20
Donations to Institutions, etc. : —
Infirmaries, etc., ;f44 8s. 6d.
Cotton Growing Association, £10 os. od.
Stalybridge Technical School, £25 os. od.
Volunteer Prize Fund, £$ os. od.
It will be seen by reference to the above figures that
the Members' Share Claims, commencing in March,
1859, ^t 3. few shillings, have grown to the presentable
and substantial sum of nearly £50,000.
OUR LOCAL WORTHIES.
Dr. John Whitehead, Physician and Biographer — John
Bradbury, F. L. S., NaturaHst and Explorer —Jethro Tinker,
Botanist and Entomologist, our local Linnaeus — Lieutenant John
Buckley, V.C., one of the defenders of the Delhi Magazine.
" The period of obscurity is passed."
DR. JOHN WHITEHEAD.
PHYSICIAN AND BIOGRAPHER.
"This was one of those men whose voices have gone forth
to the ends of the earth."
WOHN WHITEHEAD was born at Stalybridge
^1 about the year 1740. His parents were of humble
position, and had left the old Dissenting congregation
to join the Moravians, about two years before the birth
of their son.
John Whitehead was educated in the Moravian
school at Dukinfield, and received a classical training,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 201
a privilege which fell to the lot of very few of his class.
Very early in life he became deeply affected with
rehgious aspirations, and ultimately became connected
with the Wesleyan movement. Time passed on, and
Whitehead met a preacher of Wesley's doctrine, named
Matthew Mayer, a native of Stockport, who frequently
came to Stalybridge to conduct open-air services.
John Whitehead became a sound convert to Methodism
and graduated into a lay preacher of power and
influence. He left Stalybridge and went to Bristol,
where he settled, but the result of his labours was
financially so small, that, in order to sustain himself, he
went into business as a linen draper, and shortly after-
wards married. The young preacher was not successful
behind the drapery counter, the business venture proving
a failure, consequently he quitted Bristol and migrated
to London, where he joined the " Society of Friends."
Here his marked personality and his abihties speedily
received recognition ; he became prominent as a speaker,
and was selected as the conductor of a large boarding-
house connected with the society at Wandsworth.
At the age of 39 (September i6th, 1779) he entered
at Leyden University as a medical student, and graduated
as M.D. on the 4th of February, 1780. Such were the
abilities of this man that, within the space of twelve
months, on the death of John Kooystra, Physician to
the London Dispensary (19th January, 1781), he was
appointed his successor. Other distinctions awaited
him, for on March 25th, 1782, he was admitted a
Licentiate of the College of Physicians. In 1784 he was
202 BYGONE STALVBRIDGE
a candidate for the office of physician to the London
Hospital, but, although at the election for the post he
had a majority of votes, he never filled the position.
He was at this period the medical adviser of John
and Charles Wesley, who were very much attached to
him, and endeavoured to win him back to their ranks,
which they eventually succeeded in doing. Dr. White-
head was now a powerful preacher, and did great service
in the pulpit, being heart and soul in the work. He
would willingly have quitted his profession and practice
if John Wesley would have ordained him. As the
medical adviser and attendant of the founder of
Methodism, Dr. Whitehead spent much time with his
patient in his last illness, being present by the bedside
when John Wesley passed, away. Dr. Whitehead did
himself credit in the preaching of the great divine's
funeral oration, which was of such eloquence and power
that it was printed and ran through four editions,
realising the sum of £200, which Dr. Whitehead handed
over to the Wesleyan Society.
Along with two others, Dr. Whitehead was appointed
by John Wesley as " Literary Executors," it being
understood that, conjointly, they should write the
" Life of Wesley."
Shortly after the decease of John Wesley, at a
meeting of preachers called for the purpose, it was
proposed by James Rogers, and agreed to by the other
executors, that Dr. Whitehead, being the man with
most leisure, should undertake the task, and receive a
hundred guineas for it. Accordingly all the documents.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 203
papers, etc., left by the deceased leader were handed
over to him, and the work was commenced. Jealousy
appears to have arisen amongst certain members of
the Society, and a dispute arose which led to Dr. White-
head being asked to return the papers entrusted to him.
This he refused to do, and at a meeting, December gth,
1791, his name was ordered to be removed from the list
of preachers. Dr. Whitehead offered to compromise
with the committee appointed to deal with the matter,
but they refused, and the dispute went on until it led
to litigation, which v/as eventually stopped, the Society
agreeing to pay all costs, which amounted to £2,000.
Dr. Whitehead completed his task and published his
book in 1793. Three years later (1796) he returned all
the documents and papers to the Wesleyan Society,
and in 1797 he was welcomed back to the old fold, and
re-instated in the circle.
His health now began to fail and he retired into
private life, living for a few years at a house in Fountain
Court, Old Bethlehem, where he attained the age of
64 years, and died on the 7th March, 1804.
For a period of seven days his body " lay in state."
Some of those who had known him from his youth
travelled from Stalybridge by coach to witness his
funeral. His remains were laid in '* Wesley's vault,"
at the City Road Chapel, London, amidst signs of
regret and respect. He left a widow, children, and
grand- children. There is no definitely known portrait
of him with this exception, that in the engraving of
the picture representing the " Death of John Wesley "
204 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
there is a full-length figure standing by the bedside,
which is said to be the authentic likeness of Dr. John
Whitehead, physician and biographer.
JOHN BRADBURY, F.L.S.
NATURALIST AND EXPLORER.
"The Indian knows his place of rest, deep in the cedar's shade."
John Bradbury was born at Souracre Fold, or
Far Souracre, Stalybridge, about the year 1765. The
family tombs with their various inscriptions, and
which are to be seen in the old burial ground of St.
George's Chapel, Cocker Hill, have been of great service
to the writer, in verifying many facts not hitherto known
concerning the Bradburys.
The family numbered seven persons all told, com-
prised of the parents, one daughter, and four sons, of
whom John was the youngest.
A very interesting account exists of Bradbury's
early years, his future biographer, fortunately, having
been his playmate in childhood, his companion in youth,
and his friend and confidant in maturity.
Little has been written about Bradbury for nearly
fifty years, and it is the desire of the writer to brush
away the cobwebs of gathering obscurity, and retrieve
from partial oblivion the name and works of our almost
forgotten and unknown townsman.
As a little lad he was taught in the school of John
Taylor, a local genius, who dabbled in mathematics
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 205
and the study of botany, and whose humble academy
was situated on Cocker Hill.
The future explorer was remarkably precocious, even
in his early years, exhibiting great interest in natural
history and wild-life. The schoolmaster saw and en-
couraged his pupil's leanings, and occasionally took the
lad with him on his botanical rambles, whilst Bradbury's
father bought him a copy of the works of Linnaeus,
which he studied fervently.
Leaving school he went into one of the primitive mills,
but even then he found leisure time sufficient to enable
him to continue his studies. At the age of eighteen he
had established a night school at which he taught the
young men of his acquaintance what he himself had
learned. He had acquired a microscope and a pair of
astronomical globes, and by means of these appHances
distributed, free of charge to his scholars, food for the
mind and brain. He revelled in the explanation of the
construction and habits of insects and flowers, and fixed
in the sides of one of a number of bee-hives which he
possessed two small panes of glass, so that his pupils
might see the wonderful honey-makers at their work.
He contributed articles to the botanical journals of
that time, and his name and fame soon became well
known and recognised amongst the eminent scientific
At the age of twenty- two his writings and discoveries
were stirring the thoughts of the naturalists in the
Metropolis, the consequence of which was that Sir Joseph
Banks wrote to our subject, and as a sequel of the
206 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
correspondence John Bradbury was invited to London,
where he was presented to many noted gentlemen, in-
troduced to and admitted a member of the Linnean
Sir John Parnell, His Grace the Duke of Leinster, Mr.
Legh of Lyme, and other eminent patrons and devotees
of the sciences of Botany and Natural History, recognised
and encouraged the countrj^-bred aspirant. For these
patrons he did much work in organising and la3'ing out
their various country seats and parks. He, however,
does not appear to have been partial to lengthy engage-
ments, preferring occasional spells of liberty and freedom
At one period he made a pedestrian tour of Ireland,
and thereby discovered many new plants, his ambition
being to add to the store of knowledge already amassed.
Passing over the middle years of his life, we find that
in the early part of last century he lived occasionally
at Manchester, periodically migrating between that
town and Liverpool. At the latter place he met that
noble minded man, William Roscoe, Esq., who intro-
duced him to Mr. Bullock, at that time the head of the
Liverpool Museum. A Society which had for its
principles the diffusion of scientific knowledge, and was
known as the Liverpool Philosophical Society, was at
this period very active, and it appears John Bradbury
was appointed corresponding secretary. The patrons
and supporters of the society included the Earl of Derby
and Col. Leigh-Phillips, and it would appear that the
increasing demand for a larger supply of cotton for
the manufactures in this country had been under
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 207
consideration. The supply had been dependent upon the
West Indies, and it is presumable that the new Republic
of the United States, with its vast area unknown and
unexplored, had attracted the attention of the Liverpool
Society. Be that as it may, John Bradbury was selected
and engaged to undertake a hazardous journey of survey
and exploration through the country known as the
southern part of the United States of America.
At this time (1809) Bradbury would be about 43 or
44 years of age, and is described as being in the prime
of manhood, swarthy, broad-shouldered, and of medium
height, amiable, yet stubborn in disposition, temperate
in his habits, and a most excellent marksman. He was
fond of music, active on his feet, and determined in his
methods and opinions.
Prepared v/ith letters of introduction to the President
of the United States, James Madison, and also to the
British Consul at Washington, he left England in the
spring of 1809, and was met and received by the represen-
tatives of the American Societies, to v/hom his labours
had become known. This welcome impressed Bradbury
very much, and in after years our townsman always
spoke with feeling and gratefulness of the kindness, the
hospitality and universal civility which he had ever met
with at the hands of the American people.
If the reader would revel in a record of perilous
adventure, hair-breadth escapes, and exciting yet
truthful details, let him consult " Travels in the interior
of America in the years 1809, 1810 and 1811, including
a description of Upper Louisiana, together with the
208 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
States of Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, and containing
remarks and observations useful to persons emigrating
to those countries. By John Bradbury, F.L.S.,
London, Corresponding Secretary of the Liverpool
Philosophical Society, and Honorary Member of the
Literary and Philosophical Societies of New York, United
States of America." A copy of this book, published
in 1817, may be seen at the Mechanics' Institution.
On his return to this country Bradbury was pressed
to publish his diary and other writings, which he did.
The years between 18 12 and 18 17 were probably spent
in writing and publishing his book. The selling of the
work and subsequent collecting of the money would
entail much further labour, and to make a long story
short, the publication of his works ruined John Bradbury;
the result was that his future became darkened by the
clouds of adversity.
There can be no greater grief to a man who honestly
knows that he has done his duty than to feel that his
labours are unappreciated. After his manifold work,
his valuable discoveries, and the devotion of the best
days of his hfe to the cause of natural research his
future prospects were obscured and indefinite, and in
the depth of despair he resolved in his heart, if a chance
obtained, to quit his native land for ever.
He little dreamed how soon that chance would present
itself. Wandering through the streets of Liverpool one
day, he met by accident with an American sea captain,
with whom he had formerly been acquainted. His
friend was astonished at the condition in which he
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 2O9
•found Bradbury, for the latter had almost reached a
state of destitution. Explanations having been made,
the Yankee, to his honour and credit be it said, kindly
gripped the poor fellow's hand, forthwith offering a
free passage to America on board his ship for the entire
Once again the wandering naturalist crossed the
western ocean, and on his arrival at New York, his
acquaintances who had known him in brighter days
welcomed him again with a friendliness which must
have been gratifying to the heart of the exile.
Thus, on a foreign strand far away from the old home,
which to-day honours his name, John Bradbury found
that respect and recognition which were denied him in
the land of the brave and the free.
He ultimately became Curator and Superintendent
of the Botanical Gardens at St. Louis, where he was
honoured and respected by the residents of that city.
His family settled in their new home, and with good
prospects, Bradbury was now beyond the fear of penury,
and with undiminished vigour he continued his
researches and investigations. He was often visited by
the Indian Chiefs whom he had met in the wilds, and
with whom he was always on the most friendly terms.
In the spring of 1825 a strange desire took possession
of Bradbury to revisit the haunts of the Red Men, and
he forthwith started from the City of St. Louis for that
purpose. It may be that the trials of his early years
had left their mark ; it may be that his life was cut short
by accident. Be that as it may, the last record of him
210 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
states that he is supposed to have died, and been buried
with great solemnity by the Indians somewhere in the
valley at the head of the Red River.
To-day the works of our townsman are being eagerly
sought for by American agencies, and in a very short
time the few copies remaining in the district may drift
In conclusion we find that in the 6oth year of his age
this truly wonderful man, a noble example and a bene-
factor to his race, became a martyr to the love of liberty,
science, and everything that was beautiful and sublime
We claim for our townsman, John Bradbury, the
honourable distinction of having been one of the first
white men to explore, survey, and publish an account
of the hitherto unknown solitudes, which have since
furnished the bulk of the cotton used in Lancashire.
OUR LOCAL LINN.EUS.
•'The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that."
Jethro Tinker was born on the 25th September,
1788, his parents at the time residing in a cottage
at " North Britain, The Brushes." The farm buildings
now known as " North Britain Farm " cover the site.
In his boyhood days he was in service with Mr.
Gartside, of Thorncliffe Hall, Hollingworth, and
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 211
became a keen botanical student and a naturalist,
whilst following his vocation as a shepherd on the
breezy uplands and the heather-clad slopes of our local
moorlands. There is proof that he was acquainted
with John Bradbury, who, it is averred, encouraged
young Tinker in his study of wild life.
The father of Jethro Tinker was a man of superior
intelligence, and ultimately migrated from North Britain
to the village of Mottram, where he combined the
vocation of hand-loom weaver with that of school-
master. Young Jethro became a hand-loom weaver
at the age of i8, but a year or two later, on the intro-
duction of power-looms into Stalybridge, he came and
settled in the Vale, which was, with the exception of a
very short period, henceforth to be his home.
Jethro Tinker in his prime was a man of exceptionally
fine physique, and many of the older residents speak
of " the tall, straight-limbed veteran of eighty."
From operative weaver he became over-looker and
manager, and for half-a-century there was no better
known figure in the town than our subject. In the
course of his long life he was alternately shopkeeper,
publican, and latterly a gardener, a vocation for which
he was admirably fitted.
For upwards of sixty years he was the leader, teacher,
and adviser of the botanists and naturalists of this
district, and attended their periodical gatherings and
meetings up to the end of his life. In the year 1858
he was honoured by his friends, and was the recipient
of a pubhc testimonial.
212 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
From the early years of his youth to the age of four-
score he allowed no opportunity to pass whereby he
could add to his collection of specimens, a collection
which has few equals in this country, and which was
handed by his executors to the '' Stamford Park
Museum," where it is now housed. Here the visitor
may see the life's work of a humble, self-taught man,
in the form of a remarkable and interesting exhibition
of local butterflies, moths, shells, etc., etc., which to-day
are unobtainable. The Herbarium itself contains
hundreds upon hundreds of specimens of the vegetation
of the district, with notes in the hand- writing of the
gifted botanist detailing the date and place where they
were gathered. Although unnoticed by the multitude,
the " Jethro Tinker Legacy " is worthy of care and
preservation, if only for the use of the student and of
It was the custom of our subject to make long
pedestrian journeys during the week-ends in order to
gather some particular species of plant or insect — toil
and fatigue were unthought of, weather or climatic
changes unheeded. Thus did this wonderful man pass
along the roadway of life, gleaning and gathering
knowledge, not for his own profit alone but for the
use of his fellow-men.
A writer of repute, in mentioning Jethro Tinker, said:
" He had accumulated more information on the different
objects he had made his special study than perhaps any
man in his humble sphere of life had done before him."
As a lecturer on botany he had a peculiar charm
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 213
which fascinated his Hsteners and stimulated their
interest. He could quote passages from all the
known authors as readily as if he had their works
before him. This is the more remarkable considering
how little he knew of the training and privileges requisite
to the student and scholar.
To the very end of his life his memory was undimmed
and his mental faculties unimpaired. In his latter days
he resided with his son-in-law, Mr. Worthington,
Mottram Road, Stalybridge, at whose house, respected
and full of years, on the loth of March, 1871, the grand
old warrior doffed his helmet, unbuckled his armour,
and laid himself down to sleep.
His remains were borne, escorted by his friends, to
Mottram Churchyard, where they rest beneath a flat
stone on the north side of the ancient edifice. Scarcely
had the dust settled upon his grave ere a movement
was initiated for the perpetuation of his memory and
worth. A meeting was held in the Naturalists' Club,
Ridge Hill Lane, the result of which was the formation
of a committee and the ultimate erection of the " Tinker
Memorial " in Stamford Park. The disciples of the
worthy veteran left no stone unturned in order to raise
the necessary funds for their laudable object. The
committee, it should be understood, were chiefly working
men, yet as a result of their enthusiasm and labours,
on the i8th of July, 1874, they had the pleasure of
realising their idea in the completion and unveiling of
the monument. This was a red-letter day for the
botanists and naturalists of Stalybridge, Ashton, and
214 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Dukinlield. Accompanied by two bands of music, the
fraternity marched in procession to the Park, where
the ceremony was performed.
Amongst the local lovers of nature and wild life the
memory of Jethro Tinker has suffered small loss by the
lapse of time, for instead of passing into oblivion, it
stands out to-day undimmed, unsullied, and even
brighter than ever. His self-sacrifice and his gratuitous
labours have left behind them a fragrance and a
sweetness which serve as a stimulant to his disciples,
and which is creative of a veneration for his name
which the humble followers in his footsteps will not
willingly let die.
It is indeed pleasing to know that whilst a monument
of stone perpetuates his worth in the open air, the
trophies of his research may be seen in the Museum
LIEUTENANT JOHN BUCKLEY, V.C.
"And this is fame ! For this he fought and bled !
See his reward ! No matter ; let him rest.
John Buckley was born about the year 1814, in the
village of Stalybridge. His parents at the time resided
in a cottage situated on Cocker Hill. Little is to
be gleaned about his boyhood, until the period when
he went to work as a piecer at the cotton mills of
Messrs. Harrison. At a later stage he worked for
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 2I5
The approach of manhood created a desire for some-
thing beyond the narrow Umits of a cotton operative's
prospects, and, hke others of his class, he eventually
'' listed for a soldier." He appears to have quitted his
native town about Christmas or New Year's time, 1832,
and we learn that he enlisted for the " Bengal Artillery "
at the depot at Chatham in the January following.
He sailed with his regiment from Gravesend for India
on the 20th June, 1832, and arrived safely at his
destination, proceeding thence to Bengal. Buckley
belonged to the 2nd Company of the 4th Battalion of
Artillery, but a year later was transferred to the ist
BattaUon. Promotion followed, and he was again
transferred to the 4th Company, 5th Battalion, at
Benares. On the ist November, 1839, ^e attained the
rank of sergeant, followed a few months later, May 26th,
1840, with an appointment as permanent-staff Conductor.
For a period extending over nearly 17 years he served
with credit under various Commandants, improving his
position, and gaining experience. Buckley could speak
several of the Indian languages like a native.
The " Bengal Veteran Establishment," with which
as a soldier of 25 years' Indian service our subject was
connected, allowed its non-commissioned officers certain
privileges. Buckley had availed himself thereof, and
built a bungalow for his wife and family about a mile
and a quarter outside the City of Delhi.
Such was the state of affairs on the memorable
loth May, 1857, when the outbreak of the " Indian
Mutiny " occurred at Meerut. The rebel forces
2l6 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
reached Delhi on the following day, and after entering
the city, demanded the surrender of the magazine and
arsenal, where they knew that a large supply of ammuni-
tion and arms was stored. The native portion of the
magazine garrison deserted and joined the rebels,
leaving nine individuals to defend the arsenal. For
hours the besieged heroes bravely defended the place,
the guns were loaded with a double charge of grape,
and round after round was poured into the enemy.
Having exhausted all the available ammunition, and
unable to descend to the magazine for more, a hurried
consultation was held, and it was decided that, rather
than let the rebels obtain possession of the stores and
arms, the place should be blown up. A train of gun-
powder was laid to the magazine as a last resource.
At length it was found that the mutineers had gained
access to the fort, the signal was given, and in an instant
a terrific explosion shook Delhi to its foundations.
Hundreds of the mutineers were buried in the falling
ruins, the place being veritably " blown to atoms," and
five out of the nine gallant defenders perishing at the
post of duty.
Buckley's escape was a miracle. He plunged into
the River Jumna, and swam across under a hail of
bullets, one of which became embedded in his arm.
No longer a young man, for the quarter of a century
spent in a torrid climate had left its impression, worn
out, wounded, and faint from loss of blood, our subject
gained a place of safety, only to fall senseless amongst
the sedges on the river's brink. On recovering
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 217
consciousness he found himself a prisoner, along with a
number of British residents, in the hands of the rebels.
Buckley now heard from an eye-witness the story of
the massacre of his wife and family by the mutineers,
at the very time when he was helping to defend the
magazine. The gallant soldier broke down and begged
his captors to end his life, to which request a Sepoy
officer replied : '' You are too brave a man to die
Buckley escaped from his captors and joined the
British troops, seeking death continually, volunteering
repeatedly for the performance of some forlorn hope,
and risking his life at every opportunity, particularly
at the battle of Budlee-Ka-Sarai, on the 8th June, 1857,
and for these services he was promoted to the rank of
Deputy-Assistant Commissary of Ordnance.
A severe attack of sunstroke, the third from which
he had suffered, prostrated him at this time, but he
gradually recovered and was appointed Provost Marshal
of the force at Meerut, where it was his duty, during his
stay, to superintend the executions of 150 rebel
Signs of returning sickness became apparent, and he
was summoned before a medical committee and advised
to avail himself of their recommendation for leave of
absence. Proceeding to Calcutta, he presented himself
to the authorities, who granted him two years furlough
so that he might return to England. He left Calcutta
in the s.s. Alma on the i8th May, 1858, arriving in this
country on the 6th July, 1858, and reporting himself
2l8 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
at the " India House " on the gth.
On the 31st of July he received a summons from the
** Horse Guards " to attend at Portsmouth and report
himself to Major- General Scarlett. Buckley obeyed
and, on the 2nd of August, 1858, in the presence of the
whole of the garrison of Portsmouth, paraded on South-
sea Common, John Buckley, of Stalybridge, together
with a number of other brave warriors, received from
the hands of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, the highest
honour and the most cherished reward a British soldier
can have pinned upon his breast — .the Victoria Cross,
Lieutenant Buckley came home to Stalybridge in
September, 1858, and although he had many friends,
he was unable to settle and ultimately returned to India,
where it is supposed he died.
OUR LOCAL BENEFACTORS.
John Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — Mr. and Mrs.
Robert Piatt— Ralph Bates, Esq.
" When a man dies they who survive ask what property he has left behind.
The Angel who bends over the dying man asks what
deed he has sent before him."
JOHN CHEETHAM, ESQ.
"The mind's the standard of the man." .
OHN CHEETHAM was the third son of George
Cheetham, Esq., Cotton Master, of Stalybridge,
and was born at his father's house in Rassbottom Street
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 219
on the 23rd June, 1802. He was educated at the
Moravian School at Fah'field, near Manchester. In his
youth he was connected with Cocker Hih Chapel and
Sunday School as a scholar and teacher. On attaining
his majority he was admitted a member of the firm of
" George Cheetham and Sons."
A prominent feature in his composition was his
especial fondness for associating himself with any
movement which had for its object the betterment and
mental elevation of his fellow men. He became
connected with the Albion Chapel at Ashton-under-Lyne,
and for a term taught a large class of adult scholars in
the Sunday School, and later he identified himself with
the Melbourne Street Chapel in this town.
A keen interest in the social well-being of the working
classes stimulated to activity the characteristics for
which he afterwards became noted as a colleague of
Sir Benjamin Hey wood, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth,
and gentlemen of similar stamp. Always in the fore-
front whenever and wherever the question of educational
benefit to the masses was concerned, Mr. Cheetham,
together with Messrs. Robert Piatt, John Leech, Samuel
Robinson, Henry Johnson, and others, established
" British Schools " in Stalybridge and Dukinfield.
In the early days of the Dukinfield Village Library,
Mr. Cheetham's influence and sympathy did much to
put that institution on a permanent and solid basis.
The time came when the political arena claimed his
services, and for many years John Cheetham shared
the public platform with such distinguished celebrities
220 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
as Richard Cobden, John Bright, George Wilson, C. P.
Villiers, and other exponents of the principles and
programme of the Anti-Corn Law League. As a public
speaker few men were more welcome to the toiling
masses than Mr. Cheetham. It is not claimed for him
that he was gifted as an orator, but there was a distinct
charm and a true homeliness in his method of delivery
which appealed to the pubhc ; whilst the plain Lan-
cashire way in which he put forth his thoughts and
ideas had always its effect and reward.
Mr. Cheetham had a fund of sensible anecdotes at
his command, which stood him in good stead, whilst
the originality of his platform method soon secured for
him the notice of the party leaders, who forthwith
marked him as a suitable man to become a candidate
for the House of Commons.
In the year 1847, when about 45 years of age, Mr.
Cheetham contested Huddersfield, but was unsuccessful.
The year 1852 saw his unopposed return to Parliament
as one of the members for South Lancashire, his
colleague being Sir William Brown.
South Lancashire at that period meant a district
embracing the chief centres, including Liverpool, ^Man-
chester, Oldham, Wigan, Bolton, etc., and was recognised
as one of the most important constituencies in the
In the year 1857, Sir William Brown and Mr. Cheetham
were again returned unopposed.
At the general election of 1859, Mr. Cheetham was
defeated, and again in 1861 he was unsuccessful.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 221
At this period the following reference was made to
our townsman : — "He has long been recognised as one
of our foremost men, whose name has always been
connected with every great public object, not merely
as a supporter, but as an intelligent and influential
advocate. His services to commerce, both in and out
of Parliament, have been numerous and valuable. So
far as acquaintance with the forms of business and an
unsullied party reputation may carry a man, the balance
is strongly in favour of John Cheetham."
After a lapse of three years, the election of 1864 gave
Mr. Cheetham the opportunity to re-enter the political
field, and he was returned unopposed as the member for
Salford. In July, 1865, he was re-elected, but when
the Borough of Salford was given a second member of
Parliament, in 1868, Mr. Cheetham was defeated.
His personal political platform was of the widest
possible range. He recognised the rights of all men
and all classes to civil and religious freedom in the
fullest sense of the term. His business capacities were
exceptional and practical.
Mr. Cheetham in his early years was a member of a
select Literary Society, which included Mr. Hampson,
Steward of the Dukinfield Estate, the Rev. William
Gaskell, Mr. Samuel Robinson, Mr. David Cheetham,
and others. It was their custom to meet at stated
periods at each others houses, where they read poems,
essays, etc., which afterwards appeared in book form
under the title of " Noctes Dukinfeldianae." For
several years Mr. Cheetham was President of the Cotton
222 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Supply Association, for his services in connection with
which he was honoured by King Victor Emmanuel II
of Italy, who conferred upon our townsman the high
distinction of " Cavaliere of The Order of S.S. Maurizio
and Lazzario." The historic document in connection
therewith is a treasured relic at Eastwood.
As a director of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce
for a period of thirty years, extending from 1850 to 1880,
he did much important work, and was vice-president of
that body for the three years ending 1877.
Mr. Cheetham had large financial interests in the iron
works known as Bolckow, Vaughan and Co., of Middles-
borough, and also in the iron and steel works of John
Brown and Co., Sheffield, being on the directorate of
both companies. One of the original directors of the
Stalybridge Gas Co., he was also one of the first directors
of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank.
There was scarcely any organisation in the district
which had for its object the elevation and welfare of
the people, which did not benefit by his generosity and
sympathy. As a magistrate for the sister counties of
Lancashire and Cheshire, and as a Deputy-Lieutenant
for the former, Mr. Cheetham did excellent service, as
the following from Mr. R. Arthur Arnold's " History
of the Cotton Famine," will testify, the reference being
in connection with the Bread Riots at Stalybridge
in 1863 : — ." Mr. Cheetham at Stalybridge had exercised
an influence as strong as that of a troop of horse."
John Cheetham, Esq. married in 1831 Emma, the
daughter of Thomas Reyner, Esq., of Ashton-under-L3'ne.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 223
Fond of travel, Mr. Cheetham often visited the Con-
tinent, Switzerland and Italy being his favourite resorts.
Arrived at the advanced age of 84 years, he passed
calmly away at his seaside residence, Southport, on the
17th May, 1886, whence his remains were brought to
Dukinfield Cemetery, and there interred.
A memorable tribute to his worth, and a proof of
the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries,
came in the form of a letter to his son, J. F. Cheetham,
Esq., from one of the greatest and grandest of Lan-
castrians, the late Rt. Hon. John Bright, who wrote
as follows :--" Had I been nearer to your residence it
would have been a duty for me to have been present at
the funeral on Monday. I should have had satisfaction
in showing respect to the memory of one whose useful
and honourable life I had the privilege of observing
through so many years, and whose friendship I have
had the privilege of enjoying."
Although we cannot claim for our locality the honour
of its having given birth to men of hereditary title and
rank, yet we may feel with pride, and proclaim with
truth, that this dear old smoky vale of ours has in times
past been the cradle, the home, and the training ground
of some of God's true nobility.
JOHN LEECH, ESQ.
" Facts are chiels that winna' ding,
An' downa' be disputed."
John Leech was the son of John Leech, Cotton
Master, of Stalybridge, and was born on the 20th
224 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
October, 1802. He married on the 6th June, 1832,
Jane, daughter of Thomas Ashton, Esq., Cotton Manu-
facturer, Hyde, Cheshire, and had issue three sons and
five daughters. His sons were John, his heir ; Ashton,
who died in infancy ; and Wilham.
There is little record of the early days of John Leech,
but it may be assumed that he received a thorough
training under the vigilant eye of his father, the effect
of which made itself apparent in his after career, a
career as a manufacturer and merchant which stands
out to-day far above that of any of his contemporaries.
It was the privilege of the author to be closely con-
nected with the individual who acted as clerk and time-
keeper during the erection of the famous seven storey
mill in Grosvenor Street, w^hich was never intended to
be more than five storeys high, the foundations being
put in to carry that class of structure. When the fifth
storey had been completed, Mr. Leech gave orders for
another to be added, and when that had been done,
still another. The local manufacturers w^ere astonished,
and one of them asked Mr. Leech why he had added
the two extra rooms, to which he immediately replied :
'' There's no ground rent to pay up there."
The ancient grave stone, bearing the family crest and
coat-of-arms of the Leeches — one of the curiosities of
Lancashire — ^owes its preservation to John Leech, Esq.
When the footpath through the churchyard of St.
Michael, Ashton-under-Lyne, was diverted many years
ago, it was found that the pedestrians walked directly
over the ancient memorial. Mr. Leech had the stone
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 225
taken up and fixed by means of iron cramps in its
present position, behind the office of Messrs. Bromley
and Hyde, Sohcitors, Ashton-unde -Lyne.
At the time of his father's decease (November 21st,
1822), John Leech would be a very young man, and in
1825 we find that an addition had been made to the
title of the firm, which was then known as '' Leech and
Vaudrey." How long the firm retained that title we
have not been able to ascertain, but upon reference to
the " Directory," of 1848, we find the name of the
concern is once more " John Leech."
The now widely-known and successful manufacturer
bought the lands known to-day as the Gorse Hall
Estate, whereon he erected the commodious mansion,
" Gorse Hall."
The hereditary traits of the founder of the firm
developed themselves in the son, who, endowed with
exceptional energy and business capacity, followed
closely in the footsteps of his sire, and, with tact,
judgment and foresight, built up a reputation which
made the firm second to none in the mercantile arena.
In an age of slow development he saw the future
advantages that would result from the organising and
opening up of a regular trade in cotton goods with the
distant East. The dilatory and irregular system then
in vogue amongst the ordinary carriers by sea was far
too slow for John Leech. He saw the necessity for being
independent, and his shrewd, self-reliant perception
conceived an idea at once daring and speculative.
Without delay his project was given shape, and the
226 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
establishment of a shipbuilding yard at Bideford,
A fleet of specially designed sea-going vessels was
constructed for the purpose of conveying with speed
and safety the manufactured goods to distant climes,
from w^hence in return they brought back cargoes of
cotton, tea, and other marketable products. This
private fleet of sailing vessels plied regularly between
this country and the '* East Indies," and it may be
interesting to know that several of the original models
of these ships still exist. The venture was successful,
and an extension of the mills at Stalybridge followed,
to the benefit of the town and its people.
Two of John Leech's ships have been traced, the
particulars of which are as under :^"The Shuttle," 365
tons, built at Bideford. Master, Cuthbertson. Sailed
from Liverpool. Ports : Bideford, Liverpool, and
London, and the "Jane Leech," 871 tons. Master, J.
Downard. Built at Bideford, 1854. Sailed from
Liverpool. Between London and India."
John Leech is well remembered by many of the older
residents, some of whom declare that in their day and
generation he was known as " Ready-money Jack."
In his manner he was practical, unassuming, and
blunt ; in appearance, homely and smart. Active in
movement, sharp in speech, with a clean-shaven face,
sparkling eyes and a mass of dark curly hair, he had
" Business " written on his personal appearance. In
height he stood about five feet six inches, in build
being what is locally known as " thick-set." This
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 227
wonderful man was spoken of with pride by his con-
temporaries, as " the cutest man on the Manchester
Royal Exchange," and he undoubtedly created the
largest mercantile business ever known in this district.
John Leech died at his residence, Gorse Hall, on the
23rd of April, 1861, at the age of 60 years, whence a
few days later his body was borne to the family tomb
John Leech, son of John Leech, Esq., of Gorse Hall,
was born August 5th, 1835. He is well remembered as
" Young John Leech." In i860 he married Eliza,
daughter of Henry Ashworth, Esq., of " The Oaks,"
Bolton-le-Moors, and had issue one daughter and two
sons, viz. : Ethel, who married the Rev. Sir WilHam
Hyde-Parker, tenth Baronet, of Melford Hall, Suffolk ;
John Henry, his heir; and Stephen, who now occupies
a high post in the Diplomatic Service. John Leech,
junior, died on the 29th October, 1870, and was
interred at Gee Cross Chapel, Hyde.
John Henry Leech, of Kippure Park, Co. Wicklow,
Ireland, F.R.G.S., F.L.S., F.Z.S., son of John Leech,
junior, died 29th December, 1900. A valuable collection
of entomological specimens which he had formed has
been presented to the nation, and is now in the
British Museum, London.
William Leech, son of John Leech, senior, of Gorse
Hall, was born 24th August, 1836, and was married 4th
March, 1873, to Rosalie, the daughter of Sir Richard
Ansdell, R.A., of Moy, Inverness. William Leech is
well remembered by the older inhabitants of Stalybridge.
228 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
He died on the 8th March, 1887, and his remains rest
in the burial ground at Woking.
ROBERT PLATT, ESQ., J. P. and MRS. PLATT.
" Drying up a single tear has more of honest fame than
shedding seas of gore."
Robert Piatt was the son of George and Sarah Piatt,
and was born at Stalybridge on the nth November,
1802. His childhood was spent in the village, but
his boyhood and youth were passed in the vicinity of
Chester, in which city he was educated and trained for
a commercial career.
In early manhood he was installed as his father's
confidential clerk and manager at the Bridge Street Mill.
and being practical, shrewd and thrifty, it was soon
apparent to George Piatt that the future of the business
woul(^ be quite safe in the hands of his son Robert.
On the death of Mr. Piatt, senr., in 1831, the concern
appears to have passed into the hands of Robert Piatt,
and it was not long ere the new master launched out
and extended the business. Quarry Street Mills were
erected, and extensive alterations and additions were
made at the Bridge Street Mills. The famous " G. P."
yarn found ready markets, and as a spinner of " fine
counts " Robert Piatt, of Stalybridge, became widely
known in the textile world. Practical in the mill, keen
as a business man on 'Change, he appears to have
devoted his whole energy to the supervision of his
thriving and remunerative concern.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 229
Mr. Piatt had reached middle life ere he found the
lady of his choice, in the person of Miss Higgins, the
eldest daughter of William Higgins, Esq., Machinist,
of Salford : they were married at the "Old Church,"
Manchester, on the nth September, 1839 ^^^- Piatt
was then about 37 years of age, whilst his bride was in
her 2 1st year.
Mr. and Mrs. Piatt resided for many years in the
house adjoining the Bridge Street Mill, but on the
acquisition of the " Woodlands," in conjunction with
Albion Mills, that residence became their home. In the
year 1857 ^^^ demolition of the old home was necessary,
the site being needed for the addition of the new end
extension, but Mr. Piatt's house is still remembered
well by many old residents.
In December of 1857, ^^^ workpeople of Mr. and
Mrs. Piatt desired to show their respect and gratitude
to their employers, and a tea party and presentation
took place at the Foresters' Hall. The gifts were in the
form of an address, and a walking stick to the master,
and a silver inkstand for the mistress. In his replj^,
and whilst thanking his workpeople for their tributes,
Mr. Piatt made use of the following words : — ■' Whenever
it shall please God to call me to my fathers, I hope in
some way to speak to you, and do you good, even from
the grave. I will take care that after I am gone you
shall have some token of sympathy and of my regard,
which will secure for you some gratification and some
relaxation from your daily life of labour."
Although a keen, practical man of business, he had,
230 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
unlike the majority of his contemporaries, great taste
and refinement, and was a noble patron of the fine arts.
His judgment was shown in his acquisition of a collection
of oil paintings, water colour drawings, and literary
treasures, such as will, in all probability, never again
exist in this district.
The desire to encourage and elevate the tastes of the
working classes was evinced in the substantial sympathy
given by Mr. Piatt to the "Mechanics' Institution,"
at which place he introduced many eminent lecturers
and scientific celebrities, whose names are now famous
in the annals of research.
As a Churchman, his purse and influence were ever
at the service of any movement which had for its object
the spiritual welfare and benefit of his fellow worshippers.
At various periods Mr. Piatt paid the whole of the
stipends of the Curates at St. Paul's, Stayley, and St.
The early years spent in the ancient City of Chester
left an impression which bore fruit in later times, when
the ineffaceable memories, and a spirit of gratitude for
the mental benefits received, prompted our townsman
to make magnificent and princely bequests to the
The records of Owens College, now the Victoria
University, reveal Mr. Piatt's interest in the furtherance
of the welfare of its students, and it is perfectly in order
that the excellent portrait of our subject adorns to-day
the walls of that institution.
The munificent gift to this town of '' The Public
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 23I
Baths " is the best known, and will keep the memory
of our benefactor unfaded, whilst the subsequent
additions, improvements, and endowment are acts of
further benevolence which speak for themselves. The
Foundation Stone of this institution was laid on the
24th October, 1868, and the opening ceremony took
place on the 7th May, 1870.
The visitor to the Baths will notice in the entrance
hall a pair of finely executed marble busts of Mr. and
Mrs. Piatt. Truly works of art, they are the productions
of a Lancashire sculptor, John Warrington, Esq., who
at the time he received the commission for the work
was studying under a famous Italian master at Rome,
where the work was completed.
The cost of the memorials was about £200, the money
being subscribed in sums varying from £10 to 2s. The
idea was so popular, that in a very short space of time
more than the requisite sum was in the treasurer's
hands. On their arrival at vStalybridge the busts were
placed in their present position, and on the after-
noon of Monday, the 6th February, 1871, they were
unveiled in a quiet and appropriate manner. The
artist was not present, but was represented by his father,
who thanked the ladies and gentlemen assembled for
their appreciation of his son's work.
A pleasing feature in Mr. Piatt's composition was his
tendency, when speaking in public, to refer to his early
days, and their memories in connection with Stalybridge.
These reminiscences are most valuable to-day, forming
important and reliable links in the chain of past events,
232 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
by which the searcher is enabled to connect the scattered
fragments of local histor}/ for future use. The writer
has had occasion to quote freely from Mr. Piatt's public
It may not be generally known that a large plot of
land was purchased from the Dukinfield Estate, in the
vicinity of Early Bank Wood, it being the intention of
our benefactor to make a public park. Plans were
prepared by a local surveyor and designs submitted,
but through some unexplained cause the idea was
abandoned, and the land again became the property of
the " Estate."
In addition to the " Woodlands," Mr. and Mrs. Piatt
resided for some time at Dean Water, near Handforth,
where it was their custom to entertain their workpeople
annually. " Plas Llanfair, Anglesea," and '' The Friars,
Beaumaris," were also selected as residences, and finally
Dunham Hall, Cheshire, became their home.
Age, with its increasing infirmities, is no respecter of
persons, and at the venerable age of nearly four score
years, Mr. Piatt began to show proofs of decline. His
last illness was of only a few days duration. A love for
music, which was hereditary in the family, had enticed
him to attend a grand festival at Chester. Whilst in that
city on Friday, the 9th of June, 1882, he began to feel
" out of sorts," and returned to Dunham, where he
gradually became worse and died on Tuesday, June
13th, 1882, his last moments on earth being spent in
peaceful slumber. His remains were brought to his
native town and interred at St. Paul's Church, Stayley.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 233
Mrs. Piatt returned to the " Woodlands," where she
resided for the rest of her life.
As a proof of the feeling which existed betw^een Mr.
and Mrs. Piatt and their workpeople, it is thought fit
to embody in these memorials the following quotations :
The first, an extract from a speech delivered to his
employees by Mr. Piatt, in December, 1857, ^'^^^ ^^^^ :
— " The little kindnesses and pleasures, which, you are
pleased to say, we have given you from time to time,
have been given with the greatest satisfaction to my
wife and to myself, and we are very happy that you have
been gratified by them." Referring to Mrs. Piatt, he
continued : "In her you have always had a warm
friend, ever desirous to promote your good and happiness.
The Address which you have so kindly presented
to me will also be a pleasing object to contemplate. It
will remind me of many pleasant things that have passed
between you and me In the probable course
of nature my wife will outlive me, and as she will in one
way or other have a considerable interest along with
my successors in the business in which I am now engaged,
I am sure she will carry out faithfully all my washes
as regards your best interests and welfare, and, I again
repeat, that you will always find in her the kindest
sympathy and friendship ; and I may venture to say,
further, that when she goes to her last resting place, the
words of the poet will be truly her epitaph, that,
" Goodness and she fill up one monument."
In a letter addressed to the committee representing
the workpeople on the foregoing occasion, Mrs. Piatt
234 BYGONE STALYBRIDGH
wrote :— " Although I am sure, my friends, you require
no words from me to express the deep sense of gratitude
which I entertain of your kindness, I yet feel that I
cannot allow the manifestation of it to pass without
some acknowledgment Most gladly would I
have given expression to my feelings upon the occasion
of our most delightful meeting, but my emotion was
too great for words I would also say that
I look upon this beautiful present as a medium, of
conferring further honour and respect, through me, to
my husband, and in this light it is doubly grateful to
me Wishing you all every happiness for time
Your sincere friend,
" Woodlands," December, 1857.
It is indeed no wonder that this high-souled lady
should become known as " The Queen of Kindness."
Mrs. Platt survived her husband about six years, and
died respected and lamented by the people of this
district on the nth August, 1888.
The extent of the munificence and generosity of Mr.
and Mrs. Robert Platt will never be fuUy known. The
princely legacies to relatives, workpeople and local
institutions are recorded, but many were the objects
connected with the safety, happiness, and well-being
of mankind which received substantial aid, of which we
know little. By their actions they built for themselves
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 235
in the hearts of the people a memorial which remains
bright and untarnished. Peace to their ashes. Love
to their memory and rest to their souls.
*'To live in the hearts of those they loved is not to die.'*
RALPH BATES, ESQ., J. P.
" First in war, first in peace, and first in tlie hearts of his countrymen."
Few figures will be remembered better by the
present generation than that of Ralph Bates, Esq.
A man of exceptional personality, character, and
determination, he is spoken of in terms of respect
and reverence by the great majority of his fellow towns-
men. For a period of over fifty years he was an active
and valuable member of our local community, and his
removal by the inevitable and certain hand of death
left a gap in our midst which can never again be filled.
Ralph Bates was the son of John and Elizabeth Bates,
and was born in Water Street, Stalybridge, on the 5th
of February, 183 1, his parents residing at the time in
a cottage, now used as a shop, next to Mr. Barratt's,
saddler. He was the only child, and was reared and
schooled in the immediate vicinity of his birthplace,
his education being obtained under the stern and
practical Robert Smith, at Chapel Street School.
John Bates died on the ist of September, 185 1, his
son having just completed his 20th year, and being
under his father's guidance at the mill, the crisis was a
236 BYGONE STALYB RIDGE
very serious one, but as he often said in his later years,
" I had one of the best mothers in the world." Thus
Ralph Bates was left to carve his own future, and this
he did in such a fashion as to leave behind him a name
which is worth more than riches.
In his early manhood a trait of musical ability, which
was hereditary in the family, manifested itself, whilst
as an athlete he vied with the many well-known sports-
men of his day. A spirit of mischief and daring often
made itself apparent, and the numerous anecdotes
which our townspeople are ever ready to relate may
have much truth in them. His temperament was
impulsive, and even abrupt, and it was a common
thing for gentlemen, when discussing some knotty
question, to observe : " We could do with Mr. Bates
here now ; he'd settle it." Whatever else may be said
of his methods, he was always straight to the point.
He was very fond of travel and extremely interested
in church architecture, having visited almost all the
principal cathedrals and abbeys, not only of this country,
but also on the Continent of Europe. The reader will
find full proof of his interest and work in all the great
questions of his day affecting his native town, in this
volume, under the heading of the Volunteer Movement,
Mechanics' Institution, Stamford Park, etc., etc.
During the dark days of the Cotton Panic, his energy
was given to the Relief Committee, of which he was
Secretary, and whilst he was endeavouring to do what
he thought was best for his suffering fellow townspeople
a deplorable shadow darkened the picture, and he lost
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 237
the best friend he had in the world — his mother.
For a period he disappeared from his native town and
went abroad, visiting North America. His absence was
felt, and his temporary retirement much regretted by
his friends. In 1866 Mr. Bates married Miss E. J.
Whittaker, the youngest daughter of Robert Whittaker,
Esq., Cotton Master, of Hurst.
His connection with municipal affairs commenced
when the first Town Council was formed in 1857, ^I^-
Bates being one of the original members. Shortly after
his marriage, he again entered public life, and interested
himself in local affairs ; he became the leader of his
political party, which he thoroughly re-organised and led
for nearly 30 years, during which period and in which
capacity he played " second fiddle to none." Twice
(1871 to 1873) he was the Mayor of his native town,
and entered with all that fire and energy which veritably
formed part of his composition into all public functions
connected with his office. A magistrate for Cheshire from
1869 , and also for Lancashire from 1859, ^^ ^^^ well known
throughout the former county, whilst as a business man
there was no better known figure on the Royal Exchange
at Manchester. He was for many years a member of
the Manchester and Saltersbrook Turnpike Trust, a
visiting Justice of H.M. Prisons, a Commissioner for the
assessment of Income Tax, a Governor of the District
Infirmary, Mayor of the Manor of Ashton-under-Lyne,
County Councillor of Cheshire 1888-1890, County Alder-
man from 1890 to 1894, Director of the original
Stalybridge Gas Company, Trustee of the old Staly-
238 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
bridge Savings Bank, and a staunch and generous
supporter of the Church of England. Many and
difficult were the parts he played in our local annals,
but in none was he ever a failure ; he may have been
impetuous, blunt, and hasty, but he had a kindly and
tender heart, and, above all, a memory for old faces
and connections which he never allowed to grow rusty.
During the researches made in connection with this
memoir it has been a source of pleasure to unearth
many unrecorded incidents of his large-heartedness
which must be unknown, even to his own family, but
which have had a great influence upon the feelings of
Although a keen partisan, and one who would not
stand at trifles where he had an object for the benefit
of his side in view, whilst he was dreaded as a political
adversary and attacked periodically most unmercifully
by his opponents, he was nevertheless admired and
sincerely respected by many who had known him from
his youth, but who, as his old friend T. H. Sidebottom,
Esq., once wrote, " had the misfortune to differ from him
in politics." It is a pleasure for the author to record
the fact that perhaps the keenest of all his opponents,
when speaking of Mr. Bates in life, used the following
quotation from " Punch " : — •
" We've hit him right oft,' and we've hit him right
But we never denied him the name of ' Trump
In harness to the last, he was largely interested in
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 239
several of our local concerns, being chairman of the
directorate of the Albion Mills at the time of his death-.
Ralph Bates, Esq., J. P., died at his residence, Acres
Bank, Stalybridge, on the 21st October, 1903, and at a
Liberal meeting held on October 27th, a week after his
death, a lengthy tribute was paid to his worth and
memory by J. F. Cheetham, Esq., M.P., from which
we quote as follows :— " He (Mr. Bates) left behind him
a memory which would ever be fresh and green in that
community, and an example of noble devotion to the
public service which younger men would do well to copy."
A Freeman of his native town, the highest honour it
could give him, his name is inscribed on the local roll
of fame. But it is in the hearts of his fellow townsmen,
who may not be able to testify in practical shape their
silent admiration and respect, that his memory is most
From amongst the many gleanings relative to his
career, the following is selected as typical of his method of
sympathising with a fellow creature in the hour of need: —
On the 5th day of July, 1863, the second day after the
battle of Gettysburg, U.S.A., a Federal soldier who
had been busy wdth a party burying the dead, was
walking across the battlefield at sunset when he came
across an English gentleman who stood viewing the
scene of carnage and bloodshed. The soldier, a native
of Oldham, Lancashire, writing to his brother at home,
uses these words in reference to the incident : "He had
come to this country on a visit, and he came to the
battlefield. He said it was the hardest sight that he
240 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
had ever seen. I gave him your address, and he told
me he would be sure and see you. I had a long inter-
view with him He paid for my supper and
gave me a dollar to buy some tobacco with, and it came
in very useful His name is Mr. Bates,
and he is a cotton spinner from Stalybridge."
" Death is the sleep that refreshes the tired workman
for a new day," and although we know that all that
w^as mortal of our distinguished townsman lies beneath
a massive stone in St. Paul's Churchyard, Stayley, we
feel that his work, energy, and influence are bearing^
NOTABLE MEN OF THE DISTRICT.
George Cheetham, Esq. — John Leech, Esq. — John Lees, Esq. —
Thomas Harrison, Esq.— Joseph Bayley, Esq,— Thomas Mason,
Esq. — James Wilkinson, Esq. — David Harrison, Esq., J. P. —Abel
Harrison, Esq., J. P. — William Bayley, Esq. — Henry Bayley, Esq.
—Albert Hall, Esq., J.P.—Thomas Harrison, Esq., J. P. — Hugh
Mason, Esq., J. P. —The Kenworthys and the Kinders — The
Halls— The Mellors— The Orrells— The Wagstaffes— The Vaudreys
— The Bates' — The Sidebottoms — The Ridgways— The Adsheads —
" Whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to growux^on
a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better
of mankind, and do more essential service to his country,
than the whole race of politicians put together."
GEORGE CHEETHAM, ESQ.
y^EORGE CHEETHAM, the founder of the local
Vi/ firm, " George Cheetham and Sons," was born
about the year 1757. His father, John Cheetham, and
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 24I
his grandfather, Wilham Cheetham, were yeomen
farmers in the vicinity of Newton Moor, where, according
to a family tradition, " John Cheetham brought from
Birmingham a strange piece of mechanism which excited
the curiosity of his neighbours, and which the Squire of
Dukinfield (Mr. Astley) turned out in his carriage and
four to see." This machine was a primitive carding
engine, and the date would be about 1784.
George Cheetham married Sarah Lees, the sister of
John Lees, and appears to have come to Staly bridge
about 1794-95, where, in conjunction with three other
manufacturers there, was formed the firm known as
" Lees, Leech, Harrison, and Cheetham." Their
cotton mill was destroyed by fire in the year 1804, and
a dissolution of partnership followed, each member of
the defunct firm commencing business on his own
account. George Cheetham selected the Cheshire side
of the river as the site of his premises, known as Castle
Mill (Caroline Street) and now in the occupation of Mr.
Lewis Buckley and others. At that time the spot was
a veritable " paradise," for record says : " Orchards
of fruit trees and corn fields flourished, with here and
there a farm."
The following account, somewhat quaintly worded,
of George Cheetham, Esq., was written for a Presby-
terian magazine which existed in this neighbourhood
at the time of his death — i.e., 1826 :
" As Mr. Cheetham was denominated the eldest
spinner in the trade, it necessarily follows that he had
devoted a considerable period of his life to this business.
242 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
In the infancy of the cotton manufacture he made
himself acquainted with every operation from which
it derived its pecuhar advantages.
" All the improvements in machinery to which it
owes so much of its success, by him were employed,
inspected, and applied to their various purposes of
convenience and utility.
" Hence, he not only took the lead of the market he
frequented, but for a considerable period, in high
numbers, stood quite ahead of the trade. Notwith-
standing this prominence, and exertions that, never-
abating, were rewarded with the greatest success, few
individuals so circumstanced ever conciliated in a greater
degree the regards of their workmen, or manifested less
of that superiority of talent or station in society to
which great wealth so readily lend their assistance.
In manner he was retiring and unobtrusive ; in con-
versation seldom taking that lead to which his powers
were justly entitled, and always readier to attend to
the remarks of others than forward to surrender his
own. On all occasions when the interests or local
advantage of the neighbourhood required it, Mr.
Cheetham was a willing contributor. If assistance in
money was required, his subscription was foremost :
if advice or direction, his talents and his time were
readily devoted to the public good. As a Trustee of
the Turnpike Trust, he for a long time actively dis-
charged the important and responsible duties of that
situation. His disinterestedness, urgent in promoting
improvement, had the entire approbation of those
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 243
with whom he acted, and it was quite a gratification to
be associated with him in such undertakings.
" As a relaxation to other pursuits, he had for several
years past paid much attention to an upland estate,
which by draining and top-dressing with bone manure,
of which he w^as a great advocate, had become un-
commonly productive. Land that in point of fertility
had little higher pretension than the adjoining common,
by his management became one of the richest pastures
in the district. This was an object that divided his
latest attention, he having visited the farm not more
than a \\^eek previous to his decease. In the archi-
tecture of the neighbourhood, nameh\ that of cotton
factories and their appropriate appendages, his judg-
ment and experience had a decided preponderance.
A few years ago he took the direction of some important
alterations in the enlargement of the chapel to which he
bdonged, and of which he had lived to become the
father. The week previous to his sickness he gave
directions for the construction of a family vault, unaware
at the time that he would so soon become its tenant."
Standing upon Water Street Bridge, and looking at
the pile of buildings on the Cheshire side of the river,
it is easy to perceive how Mr. Cheetham extended his
mills as his trade increased. His speciality was the
spinning of yarns for the manufacture of hosiery, and
his goods found ready customers in the Nottingham
markets. The Bankwood Mills were built for cotton
spinning and weaving.
George Cheetham built the substantial house formerly
244 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
used as the Manchester and County Bank, at the corner
of King Street and Market Street, at a period when
nothing intervened between the site and the river's
edge, save pasture land and fohage. The firm of George
Cheetham and Sons consisted of the founder and his
three sons, David, John, and George.
For the interest which Mr. Cheetham took in his
upland farms and agriculture generally, he was the
recipient of a silver cup, suitably inscribed, from Mr.
Astley, of Dukinfield Lodge, and also gained a prize
offered by a Manchester society established for the
promotion and encouragement of farming.
George Cheetham died at his residence, Rassbottom
Street, Stalybridge, on the 17th April, 1826, aged 69
years, and was interred at the Old Presbyterian Chapel,
JOHN LEECH, ESQ.
The " Leechs," of Gorse Hall, belong to one of
the oldest families in this district, and they claim
descent from the Leechs of Chatsworth, in the County
of Derbyshire. A section of the family migrated into
this locality more than three centuries ago, and in
support of this we find numerous memorials and proofs
of their service and quality.
During the days of " The Cavaliers and Roundheads "
the Leechs were well known in this district as physicians
and yeomen. Their ancient crest and coat-of-arms is
sculptured on the tombstones and memorials bearing
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 245
their names within the precincts of St. Michael's Church-
One branch of the family, on the rise of the
" Dissenters," appear to have attached themselves to
the Old Chapel, Dukinfield, where they worshipped for
a long period, and where the graves of the Leechs, of
Gorse Hah, may be seen.
The founder of the firm of " John Leech " and one
of the pioneers of the cotton industry in this district,
our subject was the son of John Leech, of "The Croft,"
Dukinfield, and was born in 1755. In the year 1801 he
married Elizabeth, daughter of John Turner, of Ashton-
under-Lyne, and widow of Samuel Bates, by whom he
had issue three children, viz. : John, his heir ; William,
who died young ; and Elizabeth, born 1806, who after-
wards became the wife of John Ashton, son of James
Ashton, of Newton Moor.
About the year 1794-95 a number of men entered
into partnership, and erected what we may presume
was the first typical cotton mill in the Vale.
Shortly after the commencement of last century
John Leech left this concern, and crossing to the
Dukinfield side of the river, purchased land from Mr.
Astley, and forthwith erected a mill for himself in close
proximity to the canal, which had just been completed.
It is believed that he even made a great proportion
of his own machinery, and it is well-known that he could
card, spin, and weave, as indeed most of the pioneers
could. The " Hand-loom " of '' Th' owd Mestur " has
246 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
been often described to the writer by one who remem-
bered it well.
At the period mentioned there existed very few
cottages on the Cheshire side of the river, and as the
concern grew and more hands were required, John Leech
built a great number of houses for his workpeople. A
long row of these dwellings lined the south side of
Grosvenor Street, extending from Leech Street to
Mr. Leech's own residence, which stood back some
little distance from the road, and upon the site of which
the large weaving shed is erected.
About the year 1818, Mr. Leech put down a gas-
making plant for his own use, and also for the supply
of gas to other mill owners.
He used the canal as a means of transit for his manu-
factured goods, which were loaded into the boats and
transported to Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere,
and lived to see the business he had founded a
flourishing concern, dying on the 21st November,
1822, at the age of 68 years.
JOHN LEES, ESQ.
John Lees, the founder of the firm of John
Lees and Sons, was a native of Newton ^loor, and
was born about 1762. He married Ann Harrison, the
sister of Thomas Harrison, and resided at the Old
Castle Hall. A quaint description of his personal
appearance says : "He resembled a village clergyman
in manner and dress, and w^as very methodical and
punctual in his habits. In his younger days he had
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 247
been noted as a pedestrian and athlete." John Lees
died at Castle Hall, August 24th, 1824, aged 61 years,
and was interred at Dukinfield Old Chapel. The
following is a portion of a memoir which appeared in
a magazine at the time of his death.
" Early in his life, in the very infancy of the cotton
business, he (Mr. Lees) became a spinner, and with an
ardour peculiar to his disposition and a strong discern-
ment of what machinery rendered practicable, he was
one of the foremost to avail himself of its advantages.
He had the good fortune to connect himself with three
other partners, ah of whom became exceedingly
successful in the trade, and to whom altogether the
village of Stalybridge owes the establishment of its
wealth and prosperity. Having married when young,
the stimulus of an increasing family urged him to the
nicest calculations in the economy of his time, and the
regulations he introduced in this respect amongst a
very numerous class of his workmen have been attended
with the best effects, both to themselves and to their
employers. As a master he was strict in discipline,
requiring regular attention and uniform obedience to
the orders he prescribed, but it ought not to be omitted
that when Sir Robert Peel's Bill for limiting the hours
of labour in cotton factories became law, it had nothing
to redress for those under his control. With such a
knowledge of his business, derived from its first principles
enlarged by every new improvement with which that
business had been connected, the accumulation of a
large property ceases to be a matter of surprise. . . .
248 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
With a mind so constituted, and talents kept bright
by action, and which continued so well, it will be
naturally inferred that he was a valuable companion.
His table was ever one of the most hospitable, and
himself never so happy as in the company of his friends
when he could get a company of them to surround him."
THOMAS HARRISON, ESQ.
Thomas Harrison was the son of William Harri-
son, of High Ash, Audenshaw, who was killed by an
accident when driving. His sister, Ann Harrison, married
John Lees, of Stalybridge. George Cheetham married
a sister of John Lees, and Thomas Harrison married
another sister. These three were the " Harrison, Lees
and Cheetham " who, with John Leech commenced
cotton manufacture at Stalybridge about the year 1796.
The home of Thomas Harrison was situated almost in
the centre of the village, the site being now occupied by
the *' King's Arms Inn." Mr. Harrison afterwards built
Thompson Cross House, which was at that period one
of the finest modern mansions in the district. The firm
known as Thomas Harrison and Sons consisted of Mr.
Harrison as the head, and his four sons, William, David,
Abel, and Allen. Thomas Harrison died at Thompson
Cross, September 6th, 1820, aged 68. William Harrison
married his cousin Amy, the daughter of George
Cheetham, and sister of John Cheetham, and built
West Hill, Stalybridge, where he died November loth,
1853, aged 64.
Thomas Harrison, William Harrison, David Harrison,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 249
and Abel Harrison, are all interred at the Old Chapel,
Dukintield, where their tombs may be seen.
JOSEPH BAYLEY, ESQ.
Joseph Bay ley, the founder of the well-kncwn
local firm, was born about the year 1772. He was
in partnership with others in the latter part of the
eighteenth century, commencing business and erecting
a mill of his own about 1804. He built the substantial
residence known as " Hyde's House."
He is described as having been a finely built and
handsome man, having the love of field sports
strongly marked in his character. Noted as a daring
horseman throughout the countryside, he was the
companion of the famous Squire Astley of that day,
and there are in existence accounts of his famous horse
" Burgy," and the Squire's " General." There was at
that time a favourite " jump " in the neighbourhood
of Hollingworth Hall which would have scared the
boldest riders of the present generation, but which was
thought little of by Mr. Bayley and his friend. Like
most of the pioneers in the cotton trade, Mr. Bayley
was a practical man, and whilst superintending some
work in his mill met with an accident which proved fatal
in a very short time. He died on the 13th April, 1814,
at the early age of 42. He left a widow and a family,
his four sons being Abel, William, Henry, and Charles.
THOMAS MASON, ESQ.
Thomas Mason, Esq., of Audenshaw Hall, one
250 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
of the largest cotton spinners of his time, was a
native of Stalybridge, having been born in a cottage
which stood at the corner of Spring Street and
Rassbottom Street, about the year 1782. His father,
Henry Mason, was a joiner, a native of Stoney Middleton,
Derbyshire, who came to Stalybridge seeking employ-
ment at the time when the first St. George's Chmxh
was being erected. He was successful in obtaining
work, and settled in the village, where he married, and
in the course of time became the father of two children,
a boy and a girl, the eldest of whom, Thomas Mason, is
our subject. Henry Mason died in 1784, and was interred
in the graveyard at Cocker Hill, where a stone indicates
the exact spot. Thomas Mason was put to work in the
cotton mill at the tender age of eight years, the hours
of labour at that time being fourteen hours a day,
and from little-piecer he graduated to card-room hand,
hand-spinner, and overlooker. Mr. Mason married a
widow named Mrs. Woolley, who at the time kept a
grocer's shop in Rassbottom Street, and in the directory
for 1818 we find the name of "Thomas Mason, shop-
keeper." Shortly after this period, it is certain that Mr.
Mason, in conjunction with John Booth and Edward
Hilton commenced business on their own account at a
mill in Currier Lane, which stood upon the site now
covered by the Parish Church Mission School, and at
which place Thomas Mason worked himself as carder,
clerk and salesman. The firm at the time possessed
" two or three pairs of jennies." A dissolution of
the partnership took place, Messrs. Booth and Hilton
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 25I
returning to Stalybridge, Mr. Mason going forward to
Ashton, where he estabhshed the concern which has
grown to such vast dimensions.
As a child, youth, and young man he was closely
connected with the Chapel Street School, Stalybridge,
and as a scholar, teacher and trustee his name is in-
scribed in the records of that institution. In his later
years it was his custom, like many other of our local
celebrities, to refer to his early days, and some of these
utterances have been of great use. Speaking at a large
gathering in the district, he dealt with the credit due
to men who had risen from obscurity by their own merit,
and in encouraging the young men present, he said : —
" Why, the man who used to spin on the next jennies
to me has become exceedingly wealthy ; he has been
the Mayor of Manchester, and occupied other positions
of importance, and is now worth half a milhon of money."
Thomas IMason, Esq., died at his residence, Audenshaw
Hall, on the 17th April, 1868, at the advanced age of
86 years. His remains were interred at St. Peter's
Church, Ashton-under-Lyne, within sight of the bronze
statue erected to his youngest son.
JAMES WILKINSON, ESQ.
James Wilkinson was born about the year 1790
at a small farmstead known as Honey Home, in
the Parish of Cliviger, Lancashire, situated about
three and a half miles from Burnley. He came to
Stalybridge in the year 1803 as a youth, and settled
in the village.
252 BYGONE STALY BRIDGE
At this period there existed a firm of machinists known
as " Hazeldine and Edge," whose workshop was located
in " Owd Joe Heap's garret," really the top storey of
the building now known as the " White House Hotel."
James Wilkinson is described at this time as a short,
quaint, shrew^d youth, known amongst his workmates
and associates, as " the old man.'
He obtained a situation with Messrs. Hazeldine and
Edge, and graduated from apprentice to journeyman
in their employ. Thrifty and saving, he was never slow
to improve the opportunity of adding to his small income,
and by the time he neared manhood's estate, it was
known to at least one or two of his shopmates that
" little Jimmy wurna beawt brass." There comes down
to us the following story in connection with this period.
During the days of the Luddites, or Machine Breakers,
about the year 1810-11, the local manufacturers began
to be chary about ordering new machinery, and in
consequence the machinists of those days who were not
men of much capital, became sufferers, and in some cases
were embarrassed. Amongst others, Messrs. Hazeldine
and Edge felt the dire effects of the disturbed state of the
district. It is said that as a result, when an eventful
Saturday afternoon had arrived, the head of the firm
went to a fitter in their employ and told him that '' there
would be no more need for his services after that day."
The fitter inquired the reason, and the master ex-
plained that in consequence of financial difficulties,
caused by lack of trade, coupled with the demands of a
voracious creditor, the firm w^as on the brink of ruin.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 253
It is stated that he went to James Wilkinson, who found
sufficient capital to tide over the difficulty, the firm
being shortly afterwards known as " Hazeldine, Edge,
and Wilkinson." In 1818 the name is given as
Hazeldine and Wilkinson, and in 1825 the recorded
title of the business is ''James Wilkinson, Machinist,
Water Street, Stalybridge." About the same period
there existed a firm of cotton spinners trading as
Wilkinson and Binns, Rassbottom, of which our
subject was a partner. A few years later, Mr. Wilkinson
removed his machinist's business to a building in Old
Street, where he had the advantage of water power.
Here he built up a reputation, and supplied a great
proportion of the machinery for the mills in the town
during the earlier half of the last century.
Eventually he decided to become a cotton manu-
facturer himself, and selected the hamlet afterwards
known by the significant name of " Copley." According
to " Butterworth," Mr. Wilkinson was building his
mills in the year 1827.
James Wilkinson was a keen, practical, business man,
with experience and tact, yet he found time to interest
himself in the affairs of the thriving town. He was one
of the early " Police Commissioners," and was appointed
on the 3rd of October, 1831, as an honorary " Head
In his early days he was connected with St. George's
Chapel, Cockerhill, where his first wife is interred.
His migration and settlement at Copley had much to
do with the inception of the handsome Church of St.
254 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Paul's, Stayley, of which he was a staunch supporter.
Settled in his new mills at Copley, he eventually removed
his mechanical plant from Old Street, and carried on
the machine business in conjunction with cotton
Although Mr. Wilkinson was alwa^'s fond of this
district, he never forgot the place that gave him birth,
and it was his custom in his later years to re-visit the
scenes of his boyhood, when he would spend a few days
at the old home with his brother Thomas.
As a type of the men who, by perseverance and self-
reliance carved their way from obscurity into prominence,
James Wilkinson may be considered a worthy example.
Mr. Wilkinson died on the 3rd July, 1857, ^^ the age
of 67 years, and his remains were interred in the famil}^
vault at St. Paul's, Stayley.
DAVID HARRISON, ESQ., D.L., J.P.
David Harrison was the son of Thomas Harrison,
Esq., and was born at Newton ]\Ioor on the 24th
April, 1 79 1.
He was in the early days of the cotton industry a
member of the firm of Thomas Harrison and Sons,
manufacturers, Stalybridge. He attended as a jrouth
a college at Audenshaw, at which institution he acquired
a sound training and an education which fitted him for
his future career. In the early days of the " Police
Commissioners " he was always to the fore, often pre-
siding at their meetings, and at one time occupying the
honorary position of High-Constable of the town. He
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 255
was a magistrate for the counties of Lancashire and
Cheshire, and also for the West Riding of Yorkshire.
As a Deputy-Lieutenant of Lancaster he also did service
for the good and welfare of that county. A staunch
supporter of the Mechanics' Institution in its early days,
he assisted by means of his purse the inauguration of
the present Institution, the foundation-stone of which
he " weh and truly laid " on the 17th August, 1863.
During the Crimean War he interested himself in the
welfare of the wives and families of the local soldiers
on active service. He has been described as a typical
English gentleman in the fullest meaning of the phrase.
Fond of outdoor exercise, he dearly loved to ride behind
a pack of hounds, across the green pastures of the
district, whilst as a judge of horse-flesh few country gentle-
men were better qualified than he. As a magistrate he
tempered justice with mercy, and even to-day some of
our patriarchs who through some misdemeanour had
appeared before him in their youthful days, will speak
with a tremor in their tones as they refer to " Mestur
Mr. Harrison w^as not prominent as a party leader.
In religion he was a Unitarian. His success as a manu-
facturer had little effect upon his personality ; he was
straight and honest in all his dealings and decisions.
His home was the house " Thompson Cross," which
had been built by his father, and was one of the first
modern mansions erected in the town. On the demolition
of the old " Rassbottom Cross," Mr. Harrison had the
circular base-stone removed into his stable-yard, where
256 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
it was hollowed out to form a drinking- trough for the
horses. The stone is now in the Stamford Park, near
the Ashton entrance. Mr. Harrison lived beyond the
allotted span, and died lamented and mourned by all
who knew him, on the 21st October, 1872, in his 82nd
year. During the " Bread Riots " of 1863 he showed,
for a man of his years, great energy, will, and pluck,
taking upon himself the duty of reading the Riot Act
in the presence of an angry and vengeful mob. The
following tribute came from the lips of one who in his
day had been antagonistic to Mr. Harrison on local
questions, the Rev. J. R. Stephens, who said within a
few hours of Mr. Harrison's decease :
" I hope I may even live as long as that fine old
English gentleman who has gone to sleep to-day — 'the
first dissenter who was appointed to the Lancashire
magistracy after the year 1830, and, I believe, the
truest and kindest of all the justices who ever sat upon
this bench — -God rest his soul."
The funeral was of a private nature, his remains being
carried to their last resting-place in the crypt of the Old
ABEL HARRISON, ESQ., J.P.
Abel Harrison was the third son of Thomas Harrison,
of Thompson Cross House, the founder of the firm of
Thomas Harrison and Sons, and was born on the loth
Mr. Harrison was a practical man of business, and
took an active part in the management of the mills.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 257
He built the well-known mansion, once known as
" Highfield House," the cost of which is recorded as
having been upwards of ^f 15, 000. The building is now
used as a museum, etc., the grounds which surrounded
it being absorbed in what is known as Stamford Park.
As a man of business he had few, if any, superiors.
A dissolution of the firm took place about the middle
of last century, when Mr. Abel Harrison acquired the
business of the Staley Mills, which came into the market
through their relinquishment by Messrs. Howard and
Although engaged in extensive manufactures, he was
ever to the fore in all movements of importance con-
cerning the welfare of his fellow townsmen. His upright
and somewhat blunt manner, coupled with a straight-
forwardness now seldom seen, gained for him the esteem
and goodwill of all who had dealings with him. A
keen politician and partisan, he fought fair, gave no
favours, and expected no quarter ; thus he made a
name for himself, and is still remembered as one of the
staunchest men that ever lived in Stalybridge. On his
retirement from the office of Police Commissioner in
1857 h^ received a framed testimonial in the form of
an address, also a silver loving cup suitably inscribed.
They were presented to Mr. Harrison by a committee
representing a large and influential body of his fellow-
townsmen, who felt that it was their duty to acknowledge
and put upon record the kindly appreciation and regard
they felt for the numerous services rendered on their
behalf on various occasions. The address is dated
258 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
August loth, 1857, and signed on behalf of the com-
mittee by the following : — .John Kiddy, President ;
Thomas Hague, Treasurer ; George Haigh Green,
It was the common belief that Mr. Harrison suffered
heavy financial loss in connection with the terrific
struggle between the North and South in the United
States. He attained a venerable age, and passed away
at his residence, Highfield House, on June 3rd, 1865,
his remains being conveyed to the family tomb at
Dukinfield Old Chapel, at which place Mr. Harrison had
been a life-long worshipper.
WILLIAM BAYLEY, ESQ., J. P.
William Bayley was born at Hydes House, and
\\as in his day one of the most notable men in this
district. In physique he had few equals and no
superiors. Leaving the original firm, he launched out
and built the Clarence Mill, admitted at the time to
be the finest and best fitted cotton-mill in England.
In 1846 he purchased Stamford Lodge, where he made
important improvements and where he spent the rest
of his life. About the middle of the last century he
assisted a scheme for a railway proposed to be con-
structed by the L. and N.W. Railway, from Stalybridge
to Denton, which was planned to pass under St. John's
As a great friend of Sir Edward Watkin, he supported
that gentleman at the time when it was expected
Stalybridge would be enfranchised, the baronet being
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 259
a prospective candidate. The disastrous war in the
United States played sad havoc with his business
affairs, the result being that Mr. Bayley retired from
public life about the year 1863. He played many
important parts in the history of his native town, not
the least important being that of the first Mayor, in
the year 1857.
He died at Stamford Lodge on February 2nd, i8gi,
at the venerable age of 88, and was buried at Dukin-
field Old Chapel.
HENRY BAYLEY, ESQ.
Henry Bayley was the tliird son of Joseph Bayley,
cotton spinner, and after receiving a serviceable
education was taken into the concern belonging to
his mother, Mrs. Mary Bayley, known as Bridge Street
Mill. At the decease of their mother, the eldest brother
Abel having withdrawn, William, Henry, and Charles
built the extensive mills long known as Bayley Street
Mills (on a plot of land known as " The Stakes") which
eventually came into Mr. Henry Bayley's possession.
As a young man our subject was known as an
enthusiastic musician, and along with other gentlemen
took a great interest in local musicians and their
aspirations, being himself a player of quality ; he took
pleasure in arranging concerts at the Stalybridge Town
Hall, and was a prime mover in the establishment of
the " Gentlemen's Glee Club." He was instrumental
in bringing several celebrated London actors to the
district. In 1841 he was the president of the " Anti-
26o BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Monopoly League," a society which held frequent
discussions with the '' Chartists," at that time a
numerous body, on the topics of the hour. He died at
Kelsall House, Stalybridge, with tragic suddenness,
on the 19th November, 1875, aged 71 years.
ALBERT HALL, ESQ., J.P.
The name of Hall is connected with the woollen
and cotton industries of Stalybridge as far back as
the records go. Albert Hall was the son of James
Hall, of Cocker Hill, and was born near the Old Spread
Eagle Inn, in the year 1804. He was educated at
Whitley Hall, a private college near Sheffield, and entered
the cotton business of his father at King Street Mills.
Albert Hall is remembered amongst connoisseurs by
reason of his reputation as a judge and critic of
paintings, drawings, and other works of art, of which
he at one period possessed some of the choicest
examples in the North of England. His collection
included specimens of the work of all the great
masters of the English School, and his advice and
judgment, which he was ever ready to give, were always
considered reliable. During the time when Stalybridge
was noted for its patrons of art, there existed several
collections of oil paintings and water-colour drawings in
the town, one of which alone was valued at £40,000, but it
was admitted that the choicest gems were in the possession
of Albert Hall, Esq., and his opinion was often sought
by his brother manufacturers ere they made an im-
portant purchase. It has been said that Mr. Hall
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 261
himself was an artist ; he was certainly a keen
Albert Hall, Esq., died at East View, Old Mottram
Road, on the 31st December, 1885, at the advanced
age of 82, and is interred at Old St. George's Church.
THOMAS HARRISON, ESQ., J. P.
Thomas Harrison was born at West Hill, Staly-
bridge, on the 30th October, 1823, and was the elder
son of William Harrison, cotton manufacturer. He
was educated at St. Domingo House, Liverpool, and
Shrewsbury School. He was a Fellow-Commoner of St.
John's College, Cambridge, 1845 ; took B.A. degree, 1847,
and M.A. degree, 185 1, and was called to the Bar, 1849 ;
J. P. for the counties of Lancaster and Chester from 1847;
barrister-at-law of the ]\Iiddle Temple, practised on
Northern Circuit, York. Mr. Harrison was connected
with municipal work for many years, being Mayor from
November 1876 to 1880. His tastes were varied —
yachting, astronomy, bibliography, and higher mathe-
matics. His magisterial work included the offices of
member of the County Rating Committee, visiting
Justice of Prisons, etc., and Income Tax Commissioner.
As an earnest Churchman he was much interested in
St. Paul's, Stayley, of which he was a firm supporter.
Mr. Harrison died at Llandudno, August 12th, 1888,
and was interred at St. Paul's Church, Stayley
HUGH MASON, ESQ., D.L., J.P.
Hugh Mason was the third son of Thomas Mason ^
262 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
of Staly bridge, and was born at his father's
residence in Rassbottom Street, Stalybridge, on the
30th January, 18 17. The Mason family migrated to
Ashton-under-Lyne, and have since been closely identi-
fied with that town. Hugh Mason as a youth was
placed in one of the local banks, where he remained
until he attained his majority, after which time he
entered the manufacturing business of his father. He
became prominent as a public man, and filled many
important positions, including those of Mayor and
member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne. A
glimpse of his early days in Stalybridge is given in a
speech made by Mr. Mason at Chapel Street School, on
the 25th April, 1868, from which we quote : — " His
thoughts went back to the days of his childhood spent
in the old school where he first learned his A.B.C. . . .
He recollected one Sunday, going home — ^to a little
shop where his mother sold tape and gingerbread — -and
telling his father and mother in great glee that he had
learned to spell."
A platform critic once asked " when Mr. Mason had
matriculated, what University or College did he belong
to ? " The reply was : " The Universal College, his
principal degree having been earned in the academy of
practical experience." Hugh Mason, Esq., holds the
unique position of being the only Stalybridge-born man
to whose honour a bronze statue has been erected.
Mr. Mason died on the 2nd February, 1886, aged 69
years, and was interred at the Dukinfield Cemetery,
where a mausoleum is erected.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 263
THE KENWORTHYS AND THE KINDERS.
Two notable Staley-wood families are the Ken-
worthys and the Kinders, whose direct descendants
are amongst our prominent townsmen to-day.
Since the reign of Henry VHI. the Kenworthys are
found connected with " The Ashes," where Richard
Kenworthy resided about 1600 ; his son Thomas
Kenworthy, born there in 1607, died in 1667, ^-nd was
buried at Mottram. John Kenworthy, the next heir,
son of Thomas Kenworthy, married Elizabeth Foden,
who survived him, and, it is assumed, built the house
known to us as " The Ashes," to which she transferred
the name from the " Old Ashes," which was afterwards,
and is still known as Kinder Fold. Over the main
entrance to "The Ashes" is an inscribed stone bearing
initials and date, thus : F.K.— T.K., 1712 ; which are
understood to mean Foden Kenworthy and Thomas
Kenworthy, the eldest son of Thomas Kenworthy, who
died in 1710. Widow Kenworthy, nee Foden, appears
to have built this house as a home for herself and
family, two years after her husband's death. On the
loth February, 1701, Lydia Shepley, grand-daughter
of Thomas Kenworthy (1607-1667), married Hugh
Kinder, and it is assumed that he and his family
succeeded the Kenworthys at the old dwelling which
became known as Kinder Fold. A document bearing
the date 21st July, 1767, being an indenture between
the then Countess of Stamford and Mary Kenworthy,
and inscribed with the additional names of Hugh Kinder
and William Hope, gives the following particulars
264 BYGONE STALYBRIDCxi:
respecting the " Ashes " estate at that period, when it
apparently embraced the following plots of land, viz. : —
" The Bank-meadow ; the Croft ; the Well-bank ; the
Slate-croft ; the Lime-croft ; the Foxhill ; the Cote-
meadow ; the Path ; the Broad-field ; the Four-acre ;
the Further Four-acre ; the Marled-earth ; and the
Wood : containing by common estimation, thirty acres
of land of the large Cheshire measure."
The Kenworthys intermarried with the Shepleys,
Kinders, Boyers or Bowers, and the Mellors, all of
whom were amongst the pioneers of the woollen manu-
facture in Stayley, several of them keeping their own
flocks of sheep, from whose backs they sheared the
fleece, and transformed it into cloth on their own premises.
One member of the family, Samuel Kinder, was a
manufacturer and clothier at Hyde Green, near Har-
ridge, and it was with him that Lawrence Earnshaw, of
Mottram, " was first apprenticed to the business of
clothier " (Butterworth, p. 201 ; 1827), being afterwards
engaged as a clock-maker by a Mr. Shepley, of Stockport,
presumably a kinsman of the Kinders of Staley-wood.
The Kenworthys appear to have been interested in
the Old Bridgewater Navigation Company, during its
infancy, the original value of whose shares was £yo each,
but which in 1843 were all bought up at £800 per share
by the Duke of Bridgewater.
There have been several prolonged litigations in
connection with the Kenworthys and the Kinders of " The
Ashes," the most important lasting from 1844 until
1852 : the issue at stake being estimated at that time
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 265
as £98,832 IIS. 6d. Towards the costs of procuring
information in support of the claim to the above sum,
the Kinder family alone subscribed the amount of
£2, 000. The case was never settled.
THE " HALLS."
Amongst the early manufacturers of the valley
there were several branches of the " Halls."
The " Halls " of Cocker Hih may be traced as follows :
Joseph Hah, born about 1726, was, at the end of 1799,
described as a " cloth-miher." His remains were
interred in Cocker Hih Church-yard, where the mscrip-
tion, " Joseph Hall, cloth-miller, died December 9, 1799,
aged 73," may be seen.
His son and successor was James Hah, who was born
about 1762, and established a business as " cotton-
spinner of fine counts in the vicinity of the old Eagle
Inn." Very early in the last century he appears to
have migrated to Bowling Green Mills, King Street,
where he built the house now occupied by Mr. Horace
Stokes. Mr. Hall was a practical man, and whilst
engaged in the carding department of his mill, he
accidentally got his arm into the machinery, the effect
of which was that the limb had to be amputated.
After this misfortune, Mr. Hall was known amongst
the operatives as '' Owd Nelson." James Hall, cotton
spinner, died May 24th, 1848, aged 76.
The Bayleys came from Hooley Hill. Auden-
shaw. where, about the middle of the i8th century,
266 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Joseph Bayley was a yeoman farmer. He married the
widow of WiUiam Harrison (nee Sarah Stopford, of
High Ash, Audenshaw) and was the father of Joseph,
James, John, and WiUiam Bayley, who were half-
brothers to Thomas Harrison, of Thompson Cross, and
Mrs. John Lees, of Castle Hall, Stalybridge.
Joseph Bayley, of Hooley Hill, had occasion to visit
Manchester during the time when the "King's Service"
required able-bodied men, and being a very fine and
powerful man, he is supposed to have been taken by
the press-gang, as he disappeared, and was never heard
of again (1793). His sons came to Stalybridge, where
they settled, and entered the cotton trade. Joseph
Bayley, junior, built Bridge Street Mill and Hydes
House. James Bayley married Jane, the eldest
daughter of George Cheetham, and built Albion Mills,
also Albion House. He had a large family, one of
whom, Charles Cheetham Bayley, succeeded his father
in the business, and built the mansion known as The
Woodlands, whilst Miss Ellen Bayley married Frederick
Reyner, and Miss Sarah Bayley married John Newton
of Fox Hill.
The Bayleys were remarkable for their business
capacities and exceptionally fine physique, also for
their love of all field sports.
The name of Mellor is amongst the early pioneers
of our local industry. They are said to have built
the King Street Mills, and the names of the well-
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 267
known " Mellor Brow," and also of the once-famed
spring well, "Mellor's Drop," are significant. The
building now known as the " Talbot Inn " is said to
have been the home of the Mellors, and it is quite
certain that the well-known firm of cotton manufac-
turers in Ashton-under-Lyne were of Stalybridge origin.
Several members of the family are interred in the
confines of Cocker Hill Churchyard. Thomas Mellor,
the founder of the firm of Thomas Mellor and Sons,
married Mary, the daughter of Thomas Walton, of
Stalybridge, and we are very proud to know that the
family of which Thomas Walton Mellor, Esq., was the
head originated on both sides from Stalybridge. The
Waltons were at one time well-known business people,
and are still vividly remembered by the older inhabitants
as typical English gentlemen.
John Orrell, the founder of " Orrell's Mills,"
afterwards known as " Kirk's," in Water Street,
was born in the early half of the eighteenth century,
and built one of the earliest of our typical cotton
factories. It was at Orrell's mill that Thomas Mason
commenced work, and reached the position of over
looker at 26s. per w^eek. John Orrell died January
30th, 1800. His son and successor, Thomas Orrell,
was born about the year 1778, and built for himself the
residence known as Hob Hill House, which stood in its
own grounds. Thomas Orrell was known as a successful
cotton manufacturer for many years. He died 3rd
268 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
January, 1853, aged 75 years, and was interred in the
family vault at Old St. George's
Luke Wagstaffe, the founder of the family in
this town, was a native of Mottram, and a black-
smith by occupation. He settled in Stalybridge about
1790, and in addition to the usual work of the village
smith and farrier, began to make spindles for the local
cotton - spinners. The writer remembers seeing the
dehvery book of Luke Wagstaffe, in which were entered
the dates when he supplied the various manufacturers
— Messrs. Lees, Harrison, Cheetham, Leech and others —
with " steel spindles " of various lengths and thicknesses,
in quantities of " i dozen " and '' 2 dozen " at a time.
John Wagstaffe, the son of the spindle-maker, married
Hannah Sidebottom, sister to William Sidebottom, whilst
his son, James Wagstaffe, married a Miss Robinson, and
in conjunction with his cousin, Edward Sidebottom,
commenced business at Cock-Brook factory, where they
built up a trade which encouraged them to launch out
and build Aqueduct Mills, and there they became suc-
cessful manufacturers under the title of Wagstaffe and
John Wagstaffe died on the ist February, 1855, aged
yS years. James Wagstaffe met his death through a
trap accident whilst returning from a shooting expedition
to Saddleworth, and after lingering some time he died
5th June, 1837, aged 34 years.
Tw^o very fine portraits of Mr. and Mrs. James Wag-
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 269
staffe were hung in the staircase during the Jubilee
Exhibition. They were painted in 1829 t>3'T. H. IlUdge,
R.A., who was subsequently commissioned to paint the
portrait of Lord Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby) which
now hangs in the Langworthy Gallery, Peel Park, Salford.
This is another instance of the taste and patronage of
our successful townsmen in bygone times.
The Vaudrey family appears to be of Cheshire
origin. The name is in the list of North-East Cheshire
cotton manufacturers in the eighteenth century.
A branch of the family lived in this district nearly
one hundred and fifty years ago, as proved by documents
in the possession of the family. Thomas Vaudrey was
born about the year 1756, and was connected with the
Grosvenor Street Mills. He built the residence occupied
by Dr. McCarthy, which is still known as Vaudrey
Thomas Vaudrey had two sons, Edward and John
Vaudrey, who were prominent men in the town during
the early part of last century. It appears that at one
period the Vaudreys were interested in the Grosvenor
Street IMills, the firm being known as Leech and Vaudrey.
Thomas Vaudrey died 6th July, 1838, aged 82. Edward
Vaudrey died 21st December, 1840, aged 54. John
Vaudrey died 26th March, 1832, aged 37. There are a
number of the Vaudrey family buried at Denton Old
Chapel, but those named above are interred at the Old
Chapel, Dukinfield. That the Vaudreys were people of
270 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
taste is shown by the splendid collection of family por-
traits which was lent by various members of the family
to the Jubilee Exhibition of 1907, where they created
much interest and were greatly admired by the thousands
of visitors who had the opportunity of seeing them.
The name of Samuel Bates is pronunent in the
records of the village of Stalybridge, he being one
of the first cotton-mill managers when the trade was
in its infancy. He is described as being impetuous and
practical, and, like many of the pioneers, suffered from
an accident, by which he lost the sight of one eye, the
result of an experiment with the power-loom. He
could card, weave, and spin, having passed through the
various processes as a workman. He was known as
the manager of the Stone Factory, Messrs. Halls, Castle
Samuel Bates was twice married. By his first wife
he had two sons, John and Samuel. Samuel Bates, junr.
went to Copley, John Bates remained at Castle Street
Mills, where he, too, became manager and afterwards
a partner in the firm of Messrs. Hall and Bates. In the
days of the Police Commissioners John Bates was a very
active member of that body, and in other ways was of
much service to the growing town. His career was cut
short by death on the ist September, 1851, when he
passed away at the comparatively early age of 44 years,
leaving a widow and one son, Ralph Bates, to mourn
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 27I
" The Sidebottoms," as the local firm of cotton
manufacturers are generally spoken of, were a branch
of the ancient family which gave its name to Side-
bottom Fold, Stayley.
Leaving their hill-side home in the latter part of the
eighteenth century, we find mention in the old Directories
of 1794 and 1797 of : — " William Sidebottom, cotton
spinner, James Sidebottom, cotton spinner, and Edward
Sidebottom, woollen manufacturer."
At a later period, 1825, we find a William Sidebottom
in business in Caroline Street, Stalybridge, he being the
father of Edward Sidebottom, who, in his turn, was
father to Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, Walter Side-
bottom, and James Sidebottom.
Mr. Edward Sidebottom went into partnership with
Mr. James Wagstaffe, and they commenced business at
the little mill in Currier Lane, now known as Cock-
Brook. Their business prospered, and they built
Aqueduct Mills, which they worked until about the
year 1836, when the partnership ended.
The Robinson Street Mills were built by a Mr. Daniel
Howard, who through some cause or other relinquished
possession, and the establishment passed into the hands
of the firm afterwards known as " Edward Sidebottom
Edward Sidebottom at the time of his death (24th
December, 1854) was a Justice of the Peace for the
sister counties of Lancashire and Cheshire.
Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom, his eldest son, was
272 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Mayor of Stalybridge in 1860-61. He died 30th January,
187 1, aged 53 years. Walter Sidebottom, the second
son, died nth March, 1875, aged 53. Both of these
gentlemen were bachelors.
The name of Ridgway is inseparable from the
mechanical history of Stalybridge, for in the infancy of
the cotton industry the members of the famih' who lived
in the vicinity of Roe-Cross, Mottram, were known as
wheelwrights, carpenters, and machinists, one member,
in particular, by name Ignatius Ridgway, being gifted
with the faculty of mechanical application to a
remarkable degree. His ingenuity enabled him to
construct and improve the primitive preparation
machines in use in the cotton mills at that time, and he
made carding engines, with doffers, flats, and cylinders,
completing the machines and fixing them upon wood
supports. Randal Ridgway, the nephew of this man,
came to Stalj^bridge in 1828, and worked as a hand-
spinner at Messrs. Wagstaffes and Sidebottoms. On
the dissolution of the partnership in 1836, Mr. Ridgway
was promoted to the post of manager for Mr. John
Wagstaffe, with full control of the Aqueduct Mills. As
a public man he held the positions of Police Com-
missioner, Town Councillor, and Justice of the Peace.
Randal Ridgway, J. P., died December nth, 1878, aged
John Ridgway, son of the above, is also well remem-
bered in the town. As a youth he was apprenticed to
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 273
the well-known firm of Lancashire machinists, Messrs.
Parr, Curtis, and Madeley, and ultimately became the
head of the mechanical department at Grosvenor Street
Mills. A staunch supporter of the Mechanics' Institu-
tion and a firm adherent to the Co-operative Society, in
fact, a front-rank man in every movement affecting the
welfare of his fellow-townsmen, to whom he rendered
excellent service. John Ridgway died December 28th,
1884, aged 66, respected and regretted by all who
The firm, or firms, known as Adsheads are recorded
as being the first in this district to introduce the
spinning mule. The earliest member of the family of
which we have been able to find a trace was Edward
Adshead, of Stalybridge, who died i8th January, 1800,
aged 98, and whose name is inscribed upon a tombstone
in Dukinfield Old Chapel-yard, where many other
members of the family are interred, including William
Adshead, died 26th March, 1795, aged 35 ; Edward
Adshead, died 17th June, 1820, aged 51 ; and James
Adshead, died 19th October, 1839, ^S^^ 44-
The Adsheads appear to have originated from the
neighbourhood of Millbrook, the substantial house
thereat known as " The Wood " having been built by
one of the family.
Stayley New Mills, Stocks Lane, were built by the
Adsheads, and the fine modern mills, North-End and
River Meadow, were also erected by them. Originally
274 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
the family were connected with the Old Chapel, Dukin-
field, where they worshipped, but upon the inauguration
of St. Paul's, Stayley, they attached themselves to that
Church, to which they gave much financial aid and
support. George Adshead, of " The Stocks," died 30th
June, 1865, aged 66 ; James Adshead, of " Acres Bank,"
died loth March, i860, aged 6g.
Thomas Ousey, farmer and woollen manufacturer,
held the farm on the right-hand side of Ridge Hill
Lane, near the Quarr3% now in the possession of Mr.
Allen. In the year 1823 the farm consisted of
about twenty-four acres of land, a substantial modern
house, and improved out-buildings, which had been
enlarged and modernized. Thomas Ousey had a
large family, the best known of whom were Robert
and Thomas, who became veterinary surgeons ; John,
w^ho was well known as an auctioneer ; Jane, who
became Mrs. Henry Lees, and Sarah, who is still
remembered as Miss Ousey, of Heyrod Hall.
Ralph Ouse}/, of Heyrod Hall, was connected with
the mill afterwards known as the Print Works, and also
with Black- Rock Mill. When the railway was con-
structed in 1844, the line passed through the centre
portion of Heyrod Hall Estate, and Mr. Ousey sold
the land to the company, and went to reside near Liver-
pool. A well-known railway contractor and engineer,
Mr. Nowell, resided at Heyrod Hall for some time, but
after the completion and opening of the line, the railway
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 275
company, having bought more land than was requisite,
sold the Hall back again to Mr. Ousey, who returned
to the place and ended his days there.
Ralph Ousey died in 1855, and was interred at Cocker
Hill Church, where many of the Ouseys are buried.
Thomas Ousey, of Ridge-hill, and Ralph Ousey, of
Heyrod, were cousins.
Francis DukinfieldAstley, Esq. — James Sidebottom, Esq., jP.,
M.P.- William Summers, Esq., M.P.— Dr. Hopwood, V.D., J.P.—
Robert Smith, Esq.
'■ We have only been able to ihvell upon the more notable
of our local worthies."
James Croston, F.S.A.
FRANCIS DUKINFIELD ASTLEY, ESQ.
HRANCIS DUKINFIELD ASTLEY was the son of
John Astley, Esq., and was born at Dukinlield
Lodge in 1781. His father died in 1787. His first
rudiments of education were received at Hyde, and
from thence he went to Chester, Rugby, and finally
became a Fellow-Commoner at Christ Church, Oxford.
At the age of twenty-five he was appointed High
Sheriff of Cheshire, a position which had been held by
many of his ancestors. Mr. Astley was an ideal country
276 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
squire, besides being a scholar and a gentleman, and
the interest he took in the aspect of the locality is
evinced in the fact that he planted no fewer than
40,000 trees on his estates in this district, for which
act he was presented in 1807 with the silver medal of
the " Society for the Improvement in Agriculture," and
he moreover encouraged his tenants, as a silver cup
bearing the inscription " Presented to James Ash ton,
for keeping his farm in good repair," tends to show.
Mr. Astley was a daring rider and a thorough sportsman,
and as a rendez.vous for kindred spirits he built the
well-known " Hunter's Tower " in 1807. During the
period of the war with France, he remitted the rents
of his tenantry, and distributed large sums of money
to alleviate the distress in this neighbourhood. Thinking
to benefit the district, he commenced iron-smelting,
but the venture was a dire failure, and Mr. Astley lost
a large fortune thereby. He published several books,
which are now scarce, and was always a patron of art
and literature. When Butterworth was struggling and
seeking subscribers for his books, a friend who was
acquainted with Mr. Astley sought his patronage on
behalf of the historian. " What does it mean ? "
asked Mr. Astley. '' Well, ten copies, sir," said the
friend. "Nay," replied the Squire, "put another
ought to it, and I am willing, and I will pay for them
now," which he did. The following song was wTitten
by Mr. Astley to commemorate the opening of the
Hunter's Tower, on the 27th February, 1807 '> the day
w^as exceedingly rough and stormy :
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 277
"Though the Stormy Winds do Blow."
(Air — " Ye Gentlemen of England.")
Hark ! how with northern fury, the gales around us blow,
And bear upon their angry wings the chase-forbidding snow ;
What though from storms opposing, our hunting we forego.
Let our wine in goblets shine, though the stormy winds do blow.
Whilst Bacchus holds his empire here, Diana sure will join,
And when we tell our gallant runs, we '11 pledge her sports in wine;
For from her sports proceeding, health gives the ruddy glow,
Driving care, and despair, though the stormy winds do blow.
Should Venus hither lead her court, and leave the Cyprian bower;
And Love invite the blooming maid, to grace this favour'd Tower,
Then as from lips of beauty, consenting accents flow,
The hail and rain may rage in vain, and the stormy whirlwinds blow.
Who thinks of toil and danger, as o'er opposing rocks,
Deep vales, heaths, woods, and mountains, we urge the subtle fox ?
And when the sport is over, with joy we homeward go ;
And the gay chase, in song retrace, though the stormy winds do blow.
Mr. Astley died with startling suddenness whilst on
a visit to some friends, on the 23rd July, 1825. His
body was brought home, and interred in the family
vault at Dukinfield Old Chapel.
JAMES SIDEBOTTOM, ESQ., J.P., M.P.
James Sidebottom was the third son of Edward
Sidebottom, Esq., J. P., cotton spinner, and was
born at '* The Hydes," Stalybridge, in June, 1824.
His father intended him for a commercial career,
and to that end sent him to be educated at the Man-
chester Grammar School, where he received a sound
Upon the completion of his schooling he was placed
278 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
in the counting-house of the Robinson Street MiUs, and
forthwith became a member of the firm of " Edward
Sidebottom and Sons."
Although Mr. Sidebottom was not gifted by nature
with the robustness and physique for which most of
our local " cotton-masters " were noted, he was ever
in the forefront when matters affecting the welfare of
the town and its people were in question, and from the
time of his advent into public life until his lamented
death, he '' stood his corner " and " did his best."
His name figures in the list of Police Commissioners
prior to 1857, ^ body with which the Sidebottoms had
been connected from its inception. When the In-
corporation of the Borough took place fifty years
ago, Mr. Sidebottom was elected one of the first Alder-
men, being at the time about 33 years of age.
On the 9th of November, 1864, he was nominated and
selected to fill the Mayoral chair, as Chief Magistrate, a
position he occupied for three years in succession, a
period during which the re-action of the " Cotton
Panic " had its effect in various ways. During his term
of office as Mayor he performed many local functions,
one of the most notable being the laying of the founda-
tion-stone of the present Victoria Market.
Always on the best of terms with his workpeople,
known personally to almost everyone in the town,
without any show of pomposity or self-importance, he
was ever in touch with his fellow-townsmen, and knew
their feelings and failings. No wonder therefore that
Mr. Sidebottom was selected by his party as a candidate
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 279
for " Parliamentary honours " on the enfranchisement
of the borough. Subsequently he contested the election,
and was returned as the representative of his native
town in the House of Commons on the 19th November,
1868, by a large majority.
The first election is described by the veterans of both
political parties as the keenest of all past struggles, the
excitement increasing as the campaign proceeded. The
declaration of the result of the poll did not suit the
feelings of Mr. Sidebottom's adversaries, who, question-
ing the validity of the election, took proceedings which
led to further excitement, and prolonged matters,
undoubtedly to the detriment of the health of the
A determination and desire to do his duty to his
constituents impelled Mr. Sidebottom to attend at
Westminster with great regularity. The re-action,
however, set in. It was apparent to those who knew
him best that the strain was too severe, yet, in the face
of the advice of his medical and other friends, he " stuck
to his guns " until it could no longer be denied that
" the chequer' d years had told their tale, and nature
would not be cajoled."
Early in the year 1870 the signs of ill-health mani-
fested themselves, and although no thoughts of serious
results were entertained, Mr. Sidebottom never regained
his full vigour. The winter of 1870- 1 proved too much
for him, and he passed away at his residence. Acres
Bank, on the 14th of February, 1871, at the compara-
tively early age of 47 years.
280 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
It is gratifying and interesting to sit and listen, in
the chimney corner, to the recital of some party veteran,
as he details the many episodes connected with Mr.
Sidebottom's political career. To-day we can look
through untinted spectacles at our subject, and feel
proud to claim him as a man who in all things had the
welfare of his fellow- townsmen at heart.
On the occasion of his funeral the route was thronged
with persons of every grade, who by their presence
paid a tribute of silent, yet heart-felt respect to Mr,
Above his last resting-place in the burial-ground at
St. George's Church, The Hague, there stands a beautiful
memorial, which was erected by a few of his best friends.
His portrait and his name are still familiar in the homes
of his admirers, and even those who in the political
struggles of the past fought against him, hip and thigh,
still admit that " Little Jimmy was a decent chap :
we could do with a few of his sort to-day."
WILLIAM SUMMERS, ESQ., M.P.
Scholar and Politician.
William Summers was the second son of John
Summers, Esq., ironmaster, and was born at Staly-
bridge on the 4th November, 1853.
He was educated at the private school of Mr. Wood,
Alderley Edge, Cheshire, after which he entered Owens
College about the year 1869. Gifted and clever, he
became a very successful student, and gained honours
at the College examinations. At the examination for
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 281
the first B.A. (London) in 1871 he took the exhibition
in EngUsh, of £^0 per annum, for two years, and was
placed fifth in the second class in Latin. At the exam-
ination for honours following, for the B.A. degree, 1872,
he was placed first in the third class in Logic and ]\Ioral
Philosophy. At the examination for honours, following
the first LL.B. examination, he was bracketed second
in the second class of Jurisprudence and Roman Law.
In 1872 he was elected an associate of the College.
In 1874 he entered University College, Oxford, and in
1877 took the B.A. degree with a second class. At the
examination for the M.A. degree (London) he took the
Gold Medal in classics, the highest honour which the
London University could confer, its value being
enhanced by the fact that it had only been awarded
on eight previous occasions. At College he also took the
following scholarships and prizes,— In 1872, the Early
English Society's Prize ; 1872, the Wellington (Greek
Testament) Scholarships, ;f20 ; 1872, the Shakespeare
Scholarship, ^^40 per annum for two years ; 1873, the
Shuttleworth History Prize ; 1873, the English Essay
When Mr. Summers left Oxford he read for the Bar,
and was called at Lincoln's Inn, in 1881.
In addition to his scholarly achievements he was
exceedingly proficient as a linguist, speaking French,
German, Italian, Spanish, and a little Scandinavian and
Russian. Even at the time of his death he was acquiring
a knowledge of Old Hebrew and Greek.
His first appearance on the political platform is said
282 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
to have occurred at the Ashton-under-Lyne Town
Hall, during the series of meetings held in consequence
of the " Bulgarian atrocities " in the year 1876. In
November, 1878, it was publicly announced that Mr.
Summers would be a candidate for Parliamentary
honours at the forthcoming election. Eventually he
was adopted as candidate by the Liberal party of
Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and on the 13th March,
1880, he published his address to the electors. He was
nominated by William Storrs, Esq., and Thomas Beeley,
Esq., and was returned as M.P. for the borough in the
contest that followed on April 3rd, 1880.
In May, 1881, he delivered his maiden speech in the
House of Commons. His speech on the second reading
of Mr. Gladstone's Irish Land Bill created a very
favourable impression, and he was selected by the
party leaders to second the Address at the opening of
the 1S84 Session. In 1881 he visited Ireland, and
obtained much practical knowledge for future use.
At the General Election of 1885 he again contested
his native town, but was defeated b}- his previous
adversary, Tom Harrop Sidebottom, Esq. His absence
from Westminster during the succeeding Parliament
provided him with the opportunity of travelling
abroad, and he subsequently visited Turkey, Greece,
Russia, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and the United States
of America. At the General Election of 1886 he was
the recipient of invitations from various important
constituencies, and ultimately selected Huddersfield, for
which town he was returned to Parliament, being
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 283
re-elected at the General Election of 1892. At this
period Mr. Summers was recognised as one of the most
effective platform speakers of his time, his services
being eagerly sought throughout the United Kingdom.
On the 14th of October, 1892, he left this country
for India, his intention being to remain absent for about
three months. On his arrival at Bombay in the middle
of November he proceeded to Peshawur, Lucknow,
Cawnpore, Agra, and finally, Allahabad, where, it is
believed that he intended being present at the con-
ference then being held in connection with the National
Indian Congress. It was while staying at Allahabad
that he was attacked by a malignant type of small-pox,
which rapidly reached a critical stage and proved fatal.
Mr. Summers died on the ist January, 1893, and would
in all probability, according to the custom of the
country, be interred within a few hours of his decease.
The sad news fell like a thunderbolt upon the people
of this district, and upon all hands were heard heart-felt
expressions of regret and sorrow at the sudden and
unexpected termination of a brilliant career. Within
a few hours of the receipt of the news, his old political
opponent, T. H. Sidebottom, Esq., penned a letter to a
friend from which the following words are quoted : — ■
" Etherow House, Jan. 3rd, 1893 I have had
the misfortune to differ from him in politics, but cannot
refrain from saying that I most deeply and sincerely
lament and deplore his loss He was always a
most powerful and formidable opponent, but, after the
battle, was ever ready to shake hands and be friends.
284 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
.... He had the possibiHties of a great — perhaps a
very great — ^future before him."
The columns of the London and provincial Press
contained many references to the career, character, and
public service of Mr. Summers, from which the following
selections have been culled : —
" Mr. Summers' death will be regretted by a large
circle of friends ; especially those interested in educa-
tion, who found in him a warm supporter."
'' He had a thirst for information on all imaginable
subjects, ... in manner was quiet and earnest."
"He never flinched from the advocacy of a cause
which excited his sympathy, however unpopular that
cause might for the moment be — yet he managed to do
so without losing the respect or the affection of those
who disagreed with and opposed him."
'' He was deeply interested in social questions, and
by his actions in Parliament, and his writing in reviews,
endeavoured to advance reforms."
" It will be long before his kindly presence will have
faded away from the memory of those who were
fortunate enough to know him."
" Mr. Summers never ceased to be in direct touch
with the industrial classes, as the son of a large employer
of labour. He knew from personal experience more of
the requirements of the sons of toil, and he could see
with greater precision the direction of their aspirations
than many politicians of riper years. It was his
ambition to offer at least a modest meed of help in the
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 285
momentous work of diminishing ignorance, indigence,
''All who knew Mr. Summers will regret his untimely
death, for he was one of the most kindly of the men
who were returned to the last Parliament.'
From a letter written in reference to Mr. Summers
during his lifetime by the late Rt. Hon. John Bright,
we give the following quotation: —
" As one of the younger members he is regarded with
much esteem, and also with much hope of his future,
by members of the late House of Commons."
Still vivid in the minds and memories of many of his
fellow - townsmen is their recollection of William
Summers. Well known to the working people, their
interests and his own were one ; and it is gratifying
at this date to read the honest expressions of his political
opponents as to his personal merits. We cannot bedeck
his tomb with a wreath of immortelles, but we can cherish
with a feeling of pride the knowledge that he was a
credit and an honour to the town that gave him birth.
William Summers, although cut down in the zenith
of his career, had achieved distinction and recognition,
and has left behind him ineffaceable imprints, not only
on the records of this locality, but also in the annals of
his country. His record was one series of scholarly
and mental victories.
DR. HOPWOOD, V.D., J. P.
Robert Hopwood was the son of John and
Martha Hopwood, respectable and striving folks.
286 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
belonging to the operative class. At the time of our
subject's birth they resided in Ridge Hill Lane, their
cottage being one of four which stood on the right-hand
side as the pedestrian ascended the old road. The
particular buildings were demolished some years ago
during road improvements. Robert Hopwood was born
on the i8th October, 1814, and, like many of his notable
fellow-townsmen, commenced life in a very humble
manner. As a boy he was employed at the cotton -mill
of Messrs. Harrison, but showed earh' aptitude for a
better position. He became as a youth a book-keeper
in this mill, and lost no opportunity for self-improve-
ment. A taste for anatomy and the study of physic,
developed itself, the result being that he eventually
became associated with Dr. Thompson, of Stalybridge,
and, finally, qualified as a surgeon.
On the formation of the Stalybridge Town Council in
1857 he was elected a member. In 1S61 he was IMayor
of the town, and retained the honour for three successive
years. It was during the trying times of the "Bread Riots"
that the " Little Doctor " proved his grit and pluck.
He rode on horse-back amongst a shower of stones and
other missiles which were being hurled at the heads of
the soldiers and policemen, and yet above all the hubbub
and din were heard the entreating words, " Don't hit
the Mayor." As Mayor he was chairman of the
Relief Committee, a position of great responsibility.
Amongst other things he was a strong advocate of
the water-w^orks scheme, a director of the Stalybridge
Gas Works, and first chairman of the School Board,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 287
which last office he held for a period of fifteen years. He
was connected with the Mechanics' Institution from its
commencement, and was the president of the Field
Naturahsts' Society connected with that establishment.
As a member of the committee of the District Infirmary,
and also as one of its medical officers, he did excellent
service, being elected as president of its Board of
Governors in 1890. In the early days of the Volunteer
Movement he was to the fore, being enrolled on the
5th December, 1861. He attained the rank of Surgeon-
Major in the Battalion, retiring from the service on the
9th May, 1883.
The older residents have many pleasant anecdotes
about Dr. Hopwood, which, like those of our other
local worthies, lose nothing in the telling. He resided
for a long time in Portland Place, but on his retirement
went to hve at Heathfield, where, on the i8th April,
1897, he passed away at the advanced age of 83 years.
His widow, Mrs. Maria Naomi Hopwood, survived him
nearly three years, dying on January 27th, 1900, aged
ROBERT SMITH, ESQ.
Robert Smith, Schoolmaster, of Mount Pleasant
Academy, Stalybridge, will long be spoken of by
the residents of this district. A grateful remembrance
of the beneficial results of his connection with the town
and its people, in return for the practical and solid
system of education he established, will linger in the
hearts and minds of generations yet to come. The
288 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
traces of his labours are to be seen in the personalities
of our leading successful fellow townsmen, whilst the
past and gone celebrities of the locality were mostly
men who had been at some time his pupils. Robert
Smith was a native of Linlithgow, Scotland, where he
was born in the year 1807, exactly a century ago. When
about seventeen years of age he migrated to Stalybridge,
where he remained as a resident for the rest of his life.
He came to live with his uncle, Mr. Watson, who at
that time had charge of the day school in Chapel Street,
and with whom the young Scotsman was soon in harness
as a pupil teacher. He was also connected with the
Sunday School which was held in the same building,
and the books, which bear the date May i, 1825, give
ample proof that the managers were alive to the abilities
of Robert Smith as a penman.
Writing in those bygone days played a very important
part in Sunday School work. Hundreds of children
acquired the benefit of being able to read and write
in the Sunday Schools, who would never have had the
opportunity at other times.
It was the custom to appoint the best writers in the
Sunday School as writing masters. In the record dated
19th June, 1825, there is a list of these teachers, the
names appearing in rotation, according to ability. The
name of Robert Smith heads the list, the second being
John Bates, grandfather of our present Chief Constable ;
following come the names of Thomas Wadsworth,
Jesse Tinker, and others.
It would appear that Robert Smith was the successor
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 289
of his uncle, Mr. Watson, for it is recorded that on the
ist June, 1830, he became tenant of the school, for the
purpose of week-day instruction. For a period extending
over many years he carried on his day school in Chapel
Street. Time passed on, and Mr. John Booth erected
the well-remembered buildings which stood behind the
branch Co-operative Store, Mount Pleasant, and there
Mr. Smith took up his quarters on leaving the old
school down in the town. Here he ruled his mixed flock
with full control, and with great credit to himself
and benefit to his pupils, until within a short time of
his death. His spare, active figure is still remembered,
and the peculiarities and mannerisms which seem to be
inseparable from the vocation he followed are still
spoken of by his former pupils.
On Wednesday, the 5th February, 1875, he was at
his usual post in the school, but about ten o'clock in
the evening he was taken ill and Dr. Hop wood was
called in. It was found that he had heart trouble, and
although he would not acknowledge it he gradually grew
worse, until, after a day or two's suffering he passed
away in the early hours of Saturday morning, February
8th, 1875, aged 67.
As was to be expected, his labours in the town for a
period of over fifty years had forged for him a circle
of connections amongst all classes, and it was said at
the time of his decease that if all his friends were to be
invited to his funeral it would mean a house to house
visitation. The special feature, if there was any special
feature, in his system of education, was the care and style
290 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
in writing which his pupils acquired. The penmanship
which may still be seen preserved in the homes of many
residents, in the form of manuscript exercises, is of a
different stamp to that in vogue to-day.
His funeral was announced to be of a private nature,
yet, notwithstanding this fact, a number of his old
pupils, including several magistrates, town councillors,
and others, assembled at the old school, and accom-
panied the remains to their last abiding place in St.
John Summers, Esq., J. P. — William Storrs, Esq., J. P. —
Thomas Wainwright, Esq., J. P. —Robert Broadbent, Esq., J. P.—
Messrs. Taylor, Lang & Co. — Edward Buckley, Esq.
"God helps them that help themselves.*'
JOHN SUMMERS, ESQ., J.P.
Ti^OHN SUMMERS was a native of Bolton, Lanca-
^ shire, and was born on the 17th May, 1822.
According to his own statements he was his own master
at the age of fifteen years, and it was his delight to
speak upon the subject to his friends, and tell of the
struggles and trials of his earl}^ years. Mr. Summers
was in business in this district about 1848, and subse-
quently founded the now extensive firm which bears
his name. Possessed of a keen business foresight, he
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 29T
studied the market prices of material, and profited
largely by investments which he made. Mr. Summers
was much interested in the Mechanics' Institution
where he rendered excellent service. It may be of
interest to know that when the idea of Public Baths
was mooted in Stalybridge, Mr. Summers entered into
the question with great energy. About the year 1866
the desire for " Baths " asserted itself, and was discussed
by the Town Council. A public meeting for the purpose
of assisting the project was called, the result being that
Messrs. John and William Leech offered ;f500 towards
the object proposed, and other sums were promised.
A deputation was appointed to wait upon Robert Piatt,
Esq., at Dunham Hall, when Mr. Summers, as one of
the party, introduced the question and pleaded so ably
for it that, after listening patiently, Mr. Piatt retired
to consult his wife upon the matter, and returning,
said that he (Mr. Piatt) and Mrs. Piatt were prepared
to erect the necessary Public Baths at their own cost.
Mr. Summers was the first Chairman of the Baths
Committee, having been a member of the Town Council
in 1858-61, and again from 1865 to 1870.
John Summers, Esq., died on the loth April, 1876,
at the age of 54 years, and his remains were interred
at St. John's Church, Dukinfield.
WILLIAM STORRS, ESQ., J. P.
William Storrs was the son of George Storrs,
a corn miller, of Doncaster, and was born on the
3rd July, 1828, at Sheffield.
292 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
His parents migrated to Stalybridge about the year
1832. As a lad the future contractor was apprenticed
to Mr. John Bayley to learn the trade of joiner, and on
attaining his majority, worked for some short period
as a journeyman. This position did not satisfy his
ambition, for we find that in the year 185 1 Mr. Storrs
commenced business on his own account as a builder
and contractor. He soon worked up a connection,
and established a reputation which grew, until his
name became recognised not only in this district
but throughout the North of England as that of a
conscientious and experienced builder. As a proof of
the solid and business-like manner of his dealings, he
has left behind him many pleasant memories, whilst
numerous buildings throughout the district, including
the District Infirmary, the Baths, and the Victoria
Market, are monuments of his skill. From the erection
of a substantial cotton mill to the restoration of a stately
cathedral, scarcely any class of constructive work was
left untouched. As a youth he showed marked signs
of practical and methodical gifts, being for several years
honorary librarian to the Mechanics' Institution of that
day. At a later stage he filled the position of tutor
to the elementary and technical classes attached to that
place, and ever continued his connection, having been
a vice-president for many years at the time of his death.
His services to the town were numerous and varied.
In 1872 he was elected to the Council Chamber as a
representative for Dukinfield Ward, and in the same year
he was elected a member of the Board of Guardians,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 293
of which body he was Chairman in 1885. In 1874 his
name was placed on the Commission of the Peace for
the Borough, and a few years later he became a magis-
trate for the County of Chester. Mr. Storrs was a
Churchman of broad views, and a trustee for some of
the property connected with St. Paul's, Stayley.
In addition to his contracting business he had large
financial interests in the firm of " John Wagstaffe and
Co.," of which he was chairman. He was also chairman
of the Tame Valley Thread Mills, Ltd., a director of
Albion Mills, and chairman of the " Red R. Steamship
Company, Newcastle," one of whose boats was named,
in compliment to him, the '' William Storrs."
In physique Mr. Storrs was one of the finest men in this
vicinity, and being gifted with a constitution hardened
and developed by practical training in early manhood,
it was therefore a surprise that he should pass away at
the very period of his life when his valuable experience
and advice would have been so useful to his fellow towns-
people. Mr. Storrs was supposed to have contracted
lead poisoning, and he died at Southport, 3rd June,
1894, his remains being conveyed to St. Paul's Church-
yard, Stayley, where they were reverently interred.
THOMAS WAINWRIGHT, ESQ., J. P.
Thomas Wainwright was one of three sons of
Benjamin Wainwright, a pioneer of the engineering
and millwright business in the Manchester district.
So far back as the year 18 18 we find the name in the
local Directory, of Benjamin Wainwright, Millwright,
294 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Rassbottom. It would appear that in consequence of
the growth of his business the elder Wainwright migrated
to the Cheshire side of the town, and installed himself
in the premises now considerably enlarged and carried
on by the existing firm. After the death of Benjamin
Wainwright the responsibility fell upon the shoulders
of our subject, who, by his activity, forethought, and
strict attention to business, built up the reputation
possessed by himself and his successors.
Essentially a business man he had little time for
politics. He had an intense fondness for his connection
with Freemasonry, of which ancient fraternity he was
a devout craftsman. His sympathies were with the
co-operative movement, and he was also a very earnest
supporter and worker in the early days of the Mechanics'
In the year 1895 Mr. Wainwright was appointed a
member of the Borough Bench of Magistrates, and
attended his duties faithfully and consistently to the
end. A few years before his death, when nearly eighty
years of age, he was accidentally thrown out of his trap,
and the effects of that mishap left irreparable traces
behind. Although he had passed the '' time limit," his
interest in his business was undiminished, and even on
the day of his death he spent several hours at the
Commercial Iron Works. Mr. Wainwright died at his
residence in Stocks Lane, on the 7th October 1901, at the
age of 83 years. A man of strong personality and marked
character, he is still remembered by many of his fellow
townsmen as a pattern and example worthy of imitation.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 295
ROBERT BROADBENT, ESQ., J. P.
Robert Broadbent was a native of this district,
and was born about the year 1812. His early
days and training were doubtless similar to those
of his contemporaries, when a universal knowledge
and a practical application supplied the place of the
mechanical aids in use to-da}/. At that period machine
shops were few in number and scattered in their location.
Robert Broadbent as a young man was the friend
and fellow workman of Mr. Jamieson, afterwards known
as a successful machinist and loom maker in this
neighbourhood. During the development and per-
fection of the first steam hammer, at Messrs. Nasmyth's
Ironworks, Patricroft, near Manchester, Broadbent and
Jamieson worked side by side, journeying on foot each
week-end to and from their respective homes. About
1838 Mr. Broadbent commenced business on his own
account in a portion of the " Old Greasy Mill," Old
Street, Stalybridge, whilst in 1848 his address is given
as " Castle Hall Saw Mills," where he suffered, in con-
junction with other tenants, by a disastrous fire.
Subsequently, Mr. Broadbent established himself in
the premises known as Phoenix Iron Works, where the
firm still flourishes, and from whence their powerful
machines are despatched to all parts of the world.
Robert Broadbent, Esq., was a Justice of the Peace
for the Borough, and reached the advanced age of 84
years. He died January 31st, 1896, and his remains
were interred at St. George's Church, Cocker Hill,
296 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
MESSRS. TAYLOR, LANG AND CO.
The well-known local firm of textile machinists,
Messrs. Taylor, Lang and Co., was established in
the year 1852, and from a very small beginning the
progress made has been most marked, whilst it cannot be
denied that to-day their name and fame as reliable
makers of cotton spinning and other machinery are
known not only in the great commercial centres of this
country, but also far beyond the confines of the British
From a reliable authority we learn that many of those
who afterwards became the founders of the firm, were
connected as early as, if not prior to, 1850, with a
co-operative store in Oldham, which only opened its
doors after ordinary working hours, and where several of
the more energetic members served behind the counter.
It was there, amongst its members, whilst measuring,
and weighing out the groceries, that the idea took root
that if they could buy and sell groceries, they might
have a try at buying iron and making and selling
machines. This was the state of affairs when, on the
loth of January, 1852, there commenced what was known
as " The Great Lock-out," which involved in its meshes
the artisan iron workers and machinists of the Oldham
and Manchester districts, resulting in many skilled
operatives being thrown out of permanent employment,
amongst the number being the future members of our
The idea conceived in the afore -mentioned Store now
materialised, and resulted in the co-operation of 23
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 297
individuals, which " appears to have been a spontaneous
outcome of the community of interests and determined
self-reliance." Each member was well known to be
efficient as a tradesman ; in fact, the majority had held
positions as foremen, and have been classified as follows :
Books (Pattern maker) — James Taylor ; Iron turners-
John Storrs, Samuel Booth, Henry England, Wilham
C. Birch, Thomas Cheetham ; Fitters— Andrew Birchall,
William Lees, Thomas Rhodes, Martin Scragg, Charles
Rothwell, John Lang, James Byrom, Joseph Walter
Watts, James Uttley, Joseph Rushton ; Joiners-
James Whitehead, James Sutcliffe, Thomas Watson,
Jacob Marshall ; Moulders— Thomas Armitage, Samuel
Mitchell ; Grinder— Joseph Woolhouse. When they had
organised themselves, a suitable town was sought wherein
to establish the business, and after several places had
been visited, Stalybridge was selected. Many risks and
dangers lay before them, but the working-men masters
appear to have had the fullest confidence in each other,
and trusting to their united abilities and experience,
they launched their enterprise on its course.
The new firm was known locally as " The Amal-
gamated shop," and was established in April or May,
1852, '' with a capital of £600." With the avowed
intention of succeeding, it was mutually agreed that
each of the masters should receive as wages the sum of
15s. per week until they had obtained a firm footing
and become established. This resolution meant a great
sacrifice for skilled mechanics, who had been hitherto
earning from 30s. to 50s. per week, and again, at this
298 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
very time each might have been in receipt of lock-out
pay, varying from los. to 20s. per week. From its
inception the firm made steady headway, in the face of
stern and determined opposition, and the traditions of
these early years are valuable and interesting. One
incident is recorded in print, as under : — " A short period
after the firm had commenced work the owner of the
premises, seeing a light burning, visited the works and
found one of the masters hard at labour, and at an
hour, too, long after every engine had been stopped and
every workshop in the town was closed."
Certain of our local cotton masters became alive to
the merits of the new firm, and rendered assistance and
encouragement in various ways, whilst to the credit of
one gentleman it is recorded that he allowed his name
to be used as surety on the purchase of a valuable
piece of machinery which the new firm urgently needed.
At the termination of a period of seven years from its
formation, a re-organisation of the firm took place
(1859) 3.nd seven of the original members withdrew
their interests, viz. : James Sutcliffe, Thomas Watson,
Martin Scragg, James Uttley, Thomas Cheetham,
Charles Rothwell, and Jacob Marshall ; Samuel Mitchell
had died prior to this time.
There is in existence a printed statement, published
nearly forty years ago, which says : — •" That upon the
withdrawal and re-organisation referred to, the firm
was worth in machinery, stock and working capital,
a sum which w^ould probably reach £30,000." Many
of the originators lived to see their scheme attain
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 299
dimensions never anticipated. The last survivor of the
original twenty- three masters, Mr. Martin Scragg, died
at Romiley dming the present year (1907).
EDWARD BUCKLEY, ESQ.
The foremost of our local mechanicians and inventors,
Mr. Edward Buckley, late of the firm of Messrs.
Taylor, Lang and Co., is well worthy of notice in this
volume. He was the son of Mr. Radcliffe Buckley,
blacksmith, who in the early part of last century carried
on business at the old smithy in Quarry Street,
Edward Buckley was born in Brierley Street, Castle
Hall, on the 13th April, 1838. He attended a day school
conducted by Mr. Thomas Avison in the " People's
School," Brierley Street. As a lad, on completing what
was considered a suitable education, he went first as a
grocer's assistant, but was afterwards apprenticed to
the trade of wheelwright, with Mr. James Oldfield,
who had a workshop at the corner of Huddersfield Road
and Mottram Road, the site now being covered by a
number of shops. Not finding sufficient scope for his
ingenuity, which was a hereditary trait in the Buckley
family, our subject left the service of Mr Oldfield, and
went to work at Messrs. Broadbent's, Machinists, etc.
Here he remained until he became efficient as a mechanic,
and for a time worked as a journeyman. A new firm
of machinists being formed, with a workshop situated in
Dukinfield, Mr. Buckley left Messrs. Broadbent's, and
entered their employment, on the understanding that
300 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
he was to be ultimately a partner.
The venture does not appear to have been a monetary
success, and the firm's existence was of short duration.
The cause of its dissolution is not known to the writer.
Mr. Buckley now obtained employment at Messrs. Taylor,
Lang and Co., Castle Iron Works, who at that time
made " carding engines."
Upon the firm's discontinuance of this branch of
machine making, Mr. Buckley went into the " scutcher "
department, under the superintendence of Mr. Thomas
Rhodes, whom he subsequently succeeded as the head
of the department. His wonderful inventive faculties
had full play on the machinery which passed through his
hands. The result was a series of improvements and
labour-saving combinations, which have been a source of
great profit to the firm, and also to cotton manufacturers
in many parts of the world. As a result of his energies
and growing financial interest in the firm, he was elected
to a seat on the directorate in 1872, and from that time
up to the termination of his career proved a worthy,
reliable, and diligent guardian of the interests of the
In manner he was somewhat reserved and quiet ;
in his dealings straight, and perhaps blunt. Having
known himself the difficulties which face the aspiring
working man, he needed no intimation to enlighten
him as to the qualities of those who came beneath his
supervision. Although his success had enriched him in
a worldly sense, it made little difference in his bearing
and domestic surroundings ; pride and show were
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 30I
strangers to his composition. His wife pre- deceased
him, and from the time of her death a great change
was perceptible in Mr. Buckley. He died at his
residence on Cocker Hill, on the 15th May, 1894, in his
56th year, and was interred at St. Paul's Church.
A Conservative in politics, he attained the position
of Town Councillor, and died during his term of office,
respected and regretted by all who knew him.
John Lees— Thornton Ousey— Joseph Wild— William Nolan
— Buckley Ousey — Samuel Maden.
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."
JTOHN LEES was the son of Edward Lees, a woollen
J manufacturer, of Hazlehurst, near Hartshead,
where the family had been settled for many generations,
but came to reside at Rassbottom about the year 1788,
and there, on the 6th January, 1790, John Lees was
born. At a very early age he worked in the cotton mill,
and as a youth was employed by Mr. James Bayley as
a hand spinner, becoming a few years later the manager
of a small mill near Glossop. Being ambitious, and also
of an artistic turn, he quitted the mill and found employ-
ment as a painter and decorator, working at the renova-
tion of the Old Hall, Ashton-under-Lvne.
302 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
A well-known London artist named Mr. Parry was
at this period engaged upon a number of commissions
in Stalybridge, including several of the Vaudrey por-
traits which were hung in the Jubilee Exhibition.
John Lees was a pupil of Mr. Parry, and became pro-
ficient as a portrait painter. Some of his work, toned
and mellowed by the lapse of time, is still in the possession
of the family, and is full and sufficient proof of the
artist's wonderful abilities.
About 1821 Mr. Lees commenced business as a
chemist and druggist, and in after years built the
substantial premises in Market Street, which have been
so long connected with the name of Lees ; the ceiling
of the shop he occupied was at one period a perfect work
of art, being painted with extreme care and taste, as
a decoration. The work is still remembered, and,
according to report, must have taken a great length
of time in execution, as Mr. Lees, whilst painting, would
have to lie upon his back, supported by a temporary
A fine specimen of the work ot Mr. Lees, " A View
of Old Stalybridge," was presented to the Stalybridge
Corporation by the late Mr. William Chadwick, with a
wish that it should be placed in the Astley-Cheetham
Free Library. It now, however, hangs in the Town Hall.
Mr. Lees attained the advanced age of 85 years, and
died at his residence in Market Street, Stalybridge, on
April 19th, 1875. His remains were interred in the
ancient burial ground attached to Mottram Church.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 303
Thornton Ousey was a member of a very old
Stalybridge family, and was born about the year
1810. As a 3/outh he was apprenticed to the trade of
house painting and decorating, but a taste for art being
a natural gift, he became proficient as an artist, and
judging by the specimens of his work which are still
to be seen, his talents were of no mean order. In the
year 1848, we find that he was in business in Stalybridge
as a painter, carver, and gilder, and was known also
as an artist. There is little to be gleaned from the printed
records of the district which can throw any light upon
his early days.
A fine specimen of his work was offered by Alderman
Fentem on the occasion of the opening of the Jubilee
Exhibition, May 4th, 1907, towards the formation of
a permanent Art Gallery in the Astley-Cheetham
Library. Thornton Ousey died on the 7th September,
1864, aged 54 years, and was interred at St. George's
Church, Cocker Hill, Stalybridge.
Joseph Wild was a native of Stalybridge, and as
a youth served his apprenticeship to the business
of hairdresser with his elder brother William Wild,
near the Iron Bridge. In early life he developed a
taste for drawing and painting, which was encouraged,
and a course of lessons under a prominent Manchester
artist followed. Mr. Wild was also a musician, being
able to play on the violin, and, further, he made a violin
304 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
for himself which is still in existence. The choice of
subjects dealt with by him as an artist were of the
widest range, viz. :— portraits, still life, landscape,
flowers, and fruit, in which last branch he was extremely
successful. As his artistic powers became known, he
gave up his business of hairdressing and devoted
himself wholly to painting. About the year 1872 Mr.
Wild visited the United States of America, where he
sold a great many of his pictures, and where he also
received numerous commissions ; the climate proved
unsuitable, and he returned to this country. In manner
he was refined, and perhaps reserved, and as a com-
panion and friend was ever welcome. He was a regular
exhibitor at the Royal Institution, Manchester, and
amongst his large circle of acquaintances he numbered
Thomas Crozier, of Manchester, John Coulton, Ben
Garside, Joseph Slater, Basil Bradley, and many well-
known artists of the time. A large number of the
pictures hung in the Jubilee Exhibition were from his
brush, including the portrait of Jethro Tinker, which
the artist painted and presented to the Stamford Park
Museum more than thirty years ago. Joseph Wild
died at his residence in Market Street, on the 9th March,
1876, in his 51st year, and was interred at St. Paul's
WilHam Nolan was a cotton operative, and was
employed for the greater part of his life at Messrs.
Leech's, Grosvenor Street Mills, Stalybridge. Being
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 305
of an artistic bent he commenced to draw and paint
during his leisure hours, and also dabbled in photo-
graphy during the days of the wet-plate system. He
was remarkable as being the only pupil of the late Ben
Garside, a local artist of talent, two of whose pictures,
the portrait of Charles Hindley, Esq., M.P., and " King
Charles I.," hang in the Ashton-under-Lyne Town Hall,
William Nolan painted the portrait of " The Old Post-
man," exhibited in the Jubilee Exhibition of 1907, and
also an ambitious copy of " The Last Sleep of Argyle,"
the original of which hangs in Peel Park Art Gallery,
Salford. He could never be induced to give advice or
undertake the instruction of pupils. Contemporary
with Joseph Slater, of Ashton, and other local artists,
he for many years resided in Cross Leech Street, Staly-
bridge, where he passed away on the 17th April, 1888,
at the comparatively early age of 46.
By a strange coincidence his remains were interred
by the side of his old friend and tutor, Ben Garside, on
the lower slope of the Dukinfield Cemetery.
BUCKLEY OUSEY, R.C.A.
Buckley Ousey was born in Castle Street, Stalybridge,
in the year 185 1, his father, who died a few weeks
before our subject came into the world, being
a clerk at Castle Street Mills. Whilst the future
artist was a child, his mother also passed away, and the
lad was from that time resident with his aunt, Mrs.
Whitehead, in King Street.
He commenced work early at the mills of Albert Hall,
306 BYGONE STALYBRIDGH
Esq., and remained there up to their closing, when he
found employment at the North End Mills, using his
spare time in sketching, drawing, and painting. His
artistic career was a continued struggle against adverse
circumstances, until within a short period of his death.
On one occasion a number of local gentlemen sent him
to North Wales to paint, and later still a Bolton admirer
undertook to assist him, sending him to Antwerp, where
he pursued a course of study. Then it was that success
at last appeared certain, and his work began to find
ready purchasers ; commissions poured in, but another
fact asserted itself, for it became apparent that a fatal
disease existed in his frame. At the tim.e of his death,
4th February, 1889, he had unexecuted commissions
which would have yielded a large sum of money. He
left a widow and eight children. In ^larch, 1890, an
exhibition of paintings, etc., chiefly by Mr. Ousey, for
the benefit of his widow and family, was opened by the
then Mayor, Alderman J. Ridyard, in the Stalybridge
Town Hall, which realised a very acceptable sum.
Buckley Ousey was buried at Conway, North Wales,
and was followed to his last resting place by a large
number of his brother members of the Royal Cambrian
Academy of Water Colour Artists.
Samuel Maden is well remembered as a portrait
painter, many specimens of his work being cher-
ished in this town as family heir-looms. For several
years he resided in Wakefield Road, Stalybridge,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 307
and was more successful in his portraiture than the
generaUty of artists are. Being of a genial and com-
municative disposition, he was well-known in various
local circles, where his presence was ever a welcome
addition. Essentially a self-educated man, by study
and perseverance he had achieved a position as an
artist, and often executed commissions for patrons in
various parts of the country.
Several creditable duplicate portraits of noted states-
men and party leaders adorn the walls of our local clubs
and institutions, and are evidence of his deft and
skilful brush. Samuel Maden died on the 2nd November,
1894, aged 65 years.
James Baxter, the ingenious blacksmith —Joseph Heap, the
llage constable— Edward Godley — Joseph Hall— George Newton
—The Smith Brothers — Samuel Hurst— William Hague, " I'lind
Two local Athletes : — George Adam Eayley and Alfred Summers.
•■ It matters not what men as5^ume to be, or jjood, or Inui ;
they are but what they are."
I'hilip J. Ihuley.
The Ingenious Blacksmith.
IN the Manchester Gazette, of March 5th, 1796,
there appeared a whimsical article, written in the
Lancashire dialect, by Robert Walker, of Audenshaw,
308 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
known to readers of dialect work as " Tim Bobbin the
Second," entitled " Enoch Disgraced."
The story relates to a Stalybridge blacksmith who
had invented a machine which was to assist him in his
work, and supply the place of a striker. The appliance
was fixed behind the anvil, with a treadle attached,
for the smith to put his foot upon when he needed the
assistance of his one-armed striker. Having made all
the necessary preparations, the heated iron was draw^n
from the fire and placed on the anvil, and the blacksmith,
in bending over his work, accidentally placed his foot
upon the treadle, when the obedient striker instantly
knocked him down to the ground.
The story was printed in a book published by Walker
in 1811, and is illustrated by a quaint copper plate
engraving. The invention was the forerunner of the
machine known as the " Oliver," of which there were
formerly a number in use in the once noted Stalybridge
industry of bolt making.
The identical son of Vulcan was James Baxter,
w^hose smithy was situated in Hyde's Fold, and in the
little village forge the principal part of the iron work
used in the lock gates of the canal which passes through
the Valley was made.
Just inside the higher gate of the burial ground on
Cocker Hill there is a flat tombstone, the inscription
upon which is almost obliterated. Many years ago the
writer copied it w^hilst it was still readable. It was as
foUow^s : —
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 309
" Here was interred the body of James Baxter,
Whitesmith, of- Stalybridge, who died i8th
November, 1823, aged 60.
" My sledge and hammer He redined,
My bellows, too, have lost their wind ;
My fire 's extinct, my forge decayed,
And in the dust my vice is laid ;
My fuel 's spent, my irons gone —
My nails are drove — my work is done."
OWD JOE HEAP.
Joseph Heap was a well-known character in the
village about the year 1820. He held the position
of Village Constable, was one of the first auctioneers,
and was also the landlord of what was known as " Heap's
Vaults," but which has been for several generations
past, and is still known as, " The White House," At
the period when Heap was the official representative of
the law, there did not exist any place where he could
'* lock up " his prisoners, when he had any. On such
occasions the constable had to take his charges to
Ashton-under-Lyne, where they were lodged in the
garret of a building in Cricket's Lane, known as the
" Star Chamber," until they were accommodated with
other quarters at Lancaster Gaol.
Joseph Heap was the father of James and Henry
Heap, and grandfather of the well-known auctioneer
of our own time the late Mr. Robert Heap, of Cocker
310 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
Edward Godley, or Ned Godley as he was called
by the people of the localit}^ was born at Alt, near
Hartshead, on the ist May, 1772, and according
to his own words was " a gradely mayflower."
His parents came to reside at Souracre Fold, and from
that time to his death he was connected with the
district in one way or other. As a lad he became expert
as a huntsman and angler, his services being requisitioned
b}' the sporting gentlemen of the neighbourhood. By
trade Godley was a hatter, but the fascination of the
rod and gun interfered with his calling. His skill,
knowledge, and ability, together with his sound judg-
ment and quaint personality, earned for him the
patronage and support of the local sportsmen. The
services of J. Percy, R.A., were requisitioned, and the
veteran angler has been handed down to posterity in
portraiture, one example being shown at the recent
Jubilee Exhibition. Ned Godley died at Heyrod, 8th
March, 1859, aged 86, and was interred at St. George's
Church, Cocker Hill.
Joseph Hall, or ** Owd Joe Hall," was born in 1787,
and lived to the advanced age of 77, having been for
nearly three-score years connected with the Stayley
Hunt. In his later years he resided at the New Inn,
Old Street, where he died on the 8th Januar}^ 1864, and
whence, a few days later, his body was borne to Cocker
Hill Churchyard, attended by upwards of a hundred
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 311
devout followers of the chase, many of them dressed in
their well-worn livery, and attended by their faithful
hounds. The incident furnished material for a well-
known Lancashire sketch, entitled " The Huntsman's
Funeral," by Ben Brierley.
This noted huntsman, who was born in 1777, lived to
the great age of 94 years, and as a proof of his physical
powers, it is recorded that at the age of 81 he walked
from Stalybridge to Holmfirth, in order to attend the
funeral of a brother Nimrod. In the eve of his life a
number of real friends arranged for a weekly allowance to
the old man, who, however, did not require it very long.
He died on the 7th August, 1871, and was interred at
Mottram Church, w^here a tombstone is inscribed to his
THE SMrrn brothers.
The following is a record connected with a Stalybridge
family, four brothers of whom enlisted and saw service.
Henry Smith, born 1784, enlisted at the age of 18,
1802, in the nth Dragoons, lost one of his arms in action,
and returned to Stalybridge in 18 14.
John Smith, born 1785, enlisted at the age of 18,
1803, in the 48th Regiment. Fought in Egypt under
the Iron Duke, and from the effect of the desert marches
became totally blind. Returned home with a pension.
William Smith, born 1787, enlisted at the age of 18,
1805, in the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers. Lost one of his legs
in action. Returned home with a pension.
312 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
George Smith, born 1795, enlisted at the age of 18,
1813, in the Royal Marines, Plymouth Division. On
the reduction of the forces which followed the fall of
Napoleon I., he was discharged, and returned to Staly-
bridge without a pension. On the 20th of June, 1871,
at the Old Folks' Tea Party, by request of the Mayor,
John Hyde, Esq., George Smith, then in his 76th year,
entertained the gathering with a song.
Samuel Hurst, known throughout the sporting world
as " The Stalybridge Infant," was a native of Marsden,
near Huddersfield, and came to Stalybridge when a
youth. He was engaged as a labourer for some years
amongst the stone-wallers and masons of the district,
but eventually obtained work as a striker for the black-
smiths at a local machine shop. At this period the
town was noted for its sporting men, and supporters
of the prize ring in particular, and produced from
amongst its sons several creditable wrestlers, runners,
and jumpers. Hurst became associated with the
sporting fraternity, and occasionally had a wrestling
bout with some local favourite, when suggestions were
made as to his prowess as a pugilist. Exceptionally
well built, he stood six feet one-and-a-half inches in
height, and when in condition weighed fourteen-and-a-
half stones ; hence the name of " The Infant."
His first appearance as a prize fighter occurred shortly
after the great fight between Sayers and Heenan for the
Championship of England, which ended in a drawn
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 313
battle, and Hurst was urged to challenge Heenan, money
being readily found in Stalybridge for the support of
its favourite. The challenge was ignored by Heenan
on the ground that Hurst was a novice, as he had then
never fought a battle.
The deposit money was sent to the ofhce of " Bell's
Life," where it remained until Tom Paddock challenged
Sam Hurst to fight for the sum of £200 and the " Belt."
The fight took place on the 6th November, i860.
Hurst being victorious became the Champion of
England, and returned to Stalybridge with the trophy,
which was exhibited and much admired by his friends
From the account of the combat we cull the following :
" One man entered the arena for the first time, whilst
the other had not merely competed against all the
notabilities of the present age, but had fought a bygone
About a week after his return. Hurst, whilst staying
at the Fleece Inn, Market Street, fell on the steps leading
into the backyard and broke his leg. Whilst lying in
bed he received a challenge from Jem Mace, and was
matched to fight the noted pugilist within six months
of the 19th of November. Hurst left Stalybridge with
a limb not properly set, and was beaten by Jem Mace
after a fight which lasted about forty minutes.
Samuel Hurst at one period was the landlord of a
public house in Manchester. He died on the 22nd May,
1882, aged 50, and was interred at Phillips Park
Cemetery, Bradford-cum-Beswick, Manchester.
314 BYGONE STALYBRIDCE
WILLIAM HAGUE (" BLIND BILLY.")
One of the noted characters of the town twenty years
ago was the blind itinerant street preacher, known only
to the majority of the inhabitants as " Blind Billy."
A tall gaunt figure, with a lurching gait, a stick in
his right hand, with which he occasionally felt for the
curb stone, and a wicker basket hanging upon his left
arm, this humble disciple of Christ tramped unaccom-
panied about the streets and roads of this and the
surrounding districts. Although blind, he possessed a
wonderful knowledge of the local topography, the extent
of his wanderings including Ardwick, Oldham, Saddle-
worth, Stockport and Glossop. In each of these districts
it has been the lot of the writer to see him preaching,
and it was pathetic to watch him threading his course
along the streets, as he methodically paused, his lips
moving whilst he counted to himself his paces, and then
he would turn completely round ere proceeding on his
The following kindly appreciation, written at this
date, is more lasting than a wreath of immortelles : — .
" William Hague was often mocked and jeered at as
he preached the Gospel in the back streets of Staly-
bridge, but of this fact we may all be certain, that he
now occupies in Heaven a place nearer to the Throne
than the majority of men of his or any other day. May
God send to this district a few more " Blind Billy's," —
it needs them sadl}'."
Blind Billy passed away on the 12th April, 1888,
at the age of 48 years, and his remains rest beneath an
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 315
unlettered mound in St. Paul's Church-yard, Stayley.
He was one of those who truly did his best.
Many years ago the writer penned the following
" Bit o' Foirewood," which refers to our present subject :
"Did yo' know poor Blind Billy? he's dead an' gone neaw ;
He 's gone wheer they need noather silver nor gowd —
Aw remember him weel, an' revere him chuseheaw ;
An' aw '11 tak' off my hat to ih' poor brid 'ut lies cowd.
We 'd use 'i stond an' plague him, — we didn't know then,
As he poured forth his sarmons at th' corner o' th' streets,
Delivering his unheeded message to men,
I'th' roughest o' weathers, an' th' darkest o' neets.
Owd Billy 's gone whom', ther 's no deaubt abeaut that,
He's gone to that land 'at he talked on so oft;
He 's swapped his owd basket, his slick, an' his hat.
For a beautiful robe — 'ut he's wearin' aloft.
Billy sowed some good seed, may he see heaw it grows
For he isn't blind neaw ! far beyond the blue sky —
Ther's summat com'd tricklin' deawn th' side o' my nose,
' Yo' never know what yo' can do — till yo' try.' "
TWO NOTED LOCAL ATHLETES.
GEORGE ADAM BAYLEY, ESQ.
Foremost amongst the amateur athletes of his
generation was George Adam Bayley, one of the
younger sons of William Bayley, Esq., of Stamford
Adam Bayley, as he was called by his fellow-towns-
men, was noted as a swimmer, wrestler, runner, and
jumper, whom our veteran sportsmen are never weary
of eulogizing, not without reason, as the following
record of a single day's achievements will testify : —
At a great Athletic Festival held in Manchester,
29th July, 1865, open to all comers, Mr. Bayley 's
record is as follows : — Cleared the bar at 9 feet 9 inches
3l6 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
in the pole-jump ; Threw the cricket ball a distance of
105 yards ; Covered a distance of 18 feet 5I inches in
the long jump ; Cleared at a stand jump 9 feet
9 inches ; and won the 220 yards hurdle race easily.
For his wonderful feats that day he was awarded a
silver medal for pole-jumping, silver medal for long
jumping, and gold medal for running and jumping.
Contemporary with Mr. Bayley were the late Thomas
Bazley Hall, Basil Hall, and the now veteran athletes,
Gracchus Hall, Esq. and Alderman Fentem.
George Adam Bayley died at the early age of 31
years, 19th April, 1876, and was interred in the family
tomb at Dukinfield Old Chapel.
ALFRED SUMMERS, ESQ.
Alfred Summers, the fourth son of John Summers,
Esq., ironmaster, was born at Stalybridge, and as a
youth became noted as a very fast runner, and also as
a jumper. From the numerous records of his achieve-
ments the following have been selected : —
At the Stalybridge Amateur Athletic Festival, on the
Cricket Ground, Cheetham Hill Road, July 17, 1880,
when over 300 athletes, including all the principal cham-
pions o. the time, competed, Mr. Summers won the no
yards Flat Race, covering the distance in 12 seconds ;
also the 120 yards Flat Race. On this occasion he won
£13 in cash, which he generously handed over to the
Club Committee, who purchased cricketing tackle with
it. In June, t88i, Mr. Summers defeated W. A. Dawson,
Esq. (of Cambridge University) at Huddersfield, and
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 317
about a week later, at Widnes, he beat the well-known
athlete, Davm of Carrick-on-Suir, at the long jump,
covering the capital distance of 22 feet 10 inches.
Tall, strong, and broad-shouldered, he was an
excellent type of the " clean-built " Englishman, and
like his predecessor, Adam Bayley, he was good at any
game he touched. In Rugby football he promised at
one time to make a great name for himself as a
''three-quarter," in which position his strength, speed,
and pluck made him a dangerous opponent. Serious
injuries, however, compelled him to retire from the
Amiable and kindly in disposition, Mr. Summers was
very popular in the district, and his tragic death on
the line near Stalybridge Railway Station, on October
28, 1887, at the early age of 26 years, is still vividly
remembered, and most bitterly regretted by those who
knew him. His remains rest in the family vault at
St. John's Church, Dukinfield.
LOCAL LITERARY MEN,
John Jones — Thomas Kenworthy — George Smith — Rev.
Joseph Rayner Stephens— Wilham Chad wick — Samuel Laycock,
" The feeling of veneration implanted in the poet's breast makes him cling
to the past, even in decay ... he is the ivy of animated nature."
Richard Wright Procter.
JOHN JONES, THE WELSH BARD.
OHN JONES was born at Llanasa, North Wales, on
the 14th February, 1788, and during his boyhood
3l8 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
and youth worked in a cotton mill at Holywell, which was
under the management of George Piatt of this town. x\t
the age of eighteen Jones entered the Royal Navy, and
was present at the Battle of the Nile, being, on the
termination of hostilities, along with many other
seamen, paid off and dismissed the service. About 1820
he came and settled in Stalybridge, obtaining employ-
ment at Messrs. Platts, and was henceforth connected
with the town. He published three volumes of poems,
the last being dated 1856, his principal item being
" The Sovereign."
The following lines are typical of Jones's style, being
written as a memento of the arrival and inauguration
of the peal of bells at Holy Trinity Church.
THE BELLS OF CASTLE HALL CHURCH.
Hail, Stalybridge ! since new delights are thine,
No longer bow to Ashton-under-Lyne ;
For thou canst, now, without presumptuous glee,
Boast of harmonious bells as well as she.
Now list attentive to the joyful sounds.
Such as before ne'er charm'd these humble bounds ,
On wings aerial, let them ride abroad
Till heard at Staley and at Mottram Road.
The Hydes, the Hollins, and old Currier Lane,
Now hear, astonish'd, their melodious strain.
Ring on, ye merry set ! ring on, ring on,
Loud as Bow Bells that spoke to Whittington ;
The nobler sons of industry are here,
Them let your sweet congratulations cheer.
\Vound no soft breast with future mourning peals,
But kindly spare the wddow'd heart that feels.
Ring not to hail victorious sons of Mars,
But let oblivion veil them and their wars.
Commemorate no sanguine Waterloo,
But, with its victor, hide it from our view.
Let married couples, as the church they leave,
A joyous, loud, and merry peal receive.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 319
Let the bless'd birthday of our Saviour be
'Bove all distinguished by your boundless glee,
Resound till angels, once, o'er Bethlehem's plain,
From their celestial seats descend again ;
And list to human strains, as earthly beings
Have done to heavenly in remoter scenes.
His latter years were somewhat shadowed by penury,
and he died at his cottage in Oxford Street, Stocks
Lane, on June 19th, 1858, when by requisition, he was
given a pubUc funeral. His remains, reverently followed
by nearly a hundred of his admirers and friends, were
deposited in the burial ground behind Grosvenor Square
Chapel, in the front of which edifice a neat tablet may
be seen, commemorating his talents.
Thomas Kenworthy, The Rhymester, was born in
Old Street, Stalybridge, on the 9th February, 1790.
He was the son of Thomas Kenworthy, a mill manager,
and being one of a numerous family, was put to work
in the cotton mill at a very early age. From little-
piecer, he passed through various degrees until he
became a spinning master and responsible overlooker.
The friend and contemporary of George Smith, J. C.
Prince, John Jones, and other local literary celebrities,
he contributed to the magazines and newspapers of his
time, his forte being local song and lyrical rhymes, and
his most popular production was " The Old Iron Well."
The subject of this song was a spring well noted for its
clear and crystal water, which was said to possess some
peculiar medicinal properties derived from the minerals
in its vicinity. Some of our aged townspeople still sing
320 BYGONE STAI.Y BRIDGE
the old song to the melody of " The Mistletoe Bough."
THE OLD IRON WELL.
A soldier Eve been, and Eve fought in the wars ;
For my country Lve bled, you may see by my scars ;
But now Em returned to the land of my birth,
'Tis to me the most beautiful spot upon earth.
Oh ! the old iron well - oh ! the old iron well.
My cot lonely stands on the banks of the Tame,
At the foot of yon' Lodge, that was once held in fame —
'Mid scenes quite romantic, where wild flowers smell,
There's the roar of the weir— there's the old iron well.
Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well.
In spring I rise early : 'twas always my pride,
With my rod and my line to stand whipping the tide ;
In deep shming waters where speckled trout dwell.
On my own native sod, near the old iron well.
Oh I the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well.
Dear haunts of my childhood, I hail you with joy,
As down on your flower spangled meadows I lie ;
I can roam at my ease through each dingle and dell.
Then return to my cot near the old iron well.
Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well.
My country I love thee, wherever I roam !
For I find it through life, " There's no place like home,"
Home clings to the heart like some magical spell.
Oh ! 'tis fairyland all round the old iron well.
Oh ! the old iron well— oh ! the old iron well.
The music of waters — adown the vast steep —
On my senses fall sweetly, they lull me to sleep ;
I can rise by the lark — not the clink of the bell.
And for tea- water trudge to the old iron well.
Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well.
But sickness steals o'er me, and soon I must die ;
Deep down in yon'd old chapel-yard let me lie ;
There — drink, smoke tobacco, and old stories tell
Of honest old Jack — of the old iron well.
Oh ! the old iron well — oh ! the old iron well.
Kenworthy's poems and songs would fill a small
volume if printed collectively, and as a compliment to
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 321
his talent, on the 30th November, 1865, a " Grand
Musical and Literary Entertainment " was given in
the Stalybridge Mechanics' Institution, in which the
following took part : — J. Critchley Prince, Ben Brierley,
J. Burgess, E. Grimshaw, Irvine Dearnaley, J. Ingham,
the Stalybridge Glee Union, Mr. Higham, and Miss
Whitham. The effort benefited the poet to the amount
of £30. Thomas Kenworthy died at Dukinfield, 20th
April, 1869, aged 78 years,, and his remains lie in an
unlettered grave in the Dukinfield Cemetery — ." And
this is local fame."
GEORGE SMITH, THE MOORLAND MINSTREL.
Born at Roughtown, near Mossley, on the 2nd of
March, 1794, he came to work as a lad of tender years
at the mills in Stalybridge, and was connected with the
cotton industry of the vicinity for the greater part of
his life. On attaining maturity he became a mill
manager, utilising his leisure in literary pursuits and
The following specimen of Mr. Smith's poetic com-
position is to be found amongst the collection known as
" Gems of Thought and Flowers of Fancy," published
by Richard Wright Procter : —
THE NEGLECTIU) BARD.
Child of the Lyre, 'tis hard of thee to sing
When stern reverses bind thy soaring wing,
Bind it to earth ; and yet there 's beauty there,
Food for the mind, as delicate and rare
. As poets need to banquet on : a store
Thou may'st partake until the soul runs o'er.
322 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
And yet 'tis sad for genius to behold
The eyes of soulless men, all calm and cold,
Pass o'er the beauties of his written thought,
So feelingly, so musically wrought,
Woven and interwoven with each change
Of the blest seasons, in their varied range
Of bud, and flower, and fruit of many hues
Pendant above the fructifying dews :
Of cloudless noon, of crimson sunset fair,
Of twilight's hallowed hour of silent prayer ;
When his serene, aspiring thoughts ascend
From purest source of worship, thence to blend
With all that 's beautiful in earth and skies,
Shrined in his soul, and mirror'd in his eyes.
Retard his dreamy flight, he back recoils
To sordid earth's contaminating toils ;
A space too narrow, his aspiring mind
Would leap the clouds, and grapple with the wind,
Mix with the rainbow, revel in the storm,
And mould its power to every hue and form ;
Would chase the moon athwart the night,
And then, emerging from the dreamy hght
Of clustering clouds, like snowdrifts tinged with gold,
Still yearn new charms and wonders to behold ;
Bathe in the fountains of celestial fire,
And wake to louder voice the music of his lyre.
Inspiring hope bursts into loftier song,
More cheering, more exalting, and more strong
In thought poetic or in pathos fine,
Than e'er was breathed from lowly lyre of mine.
How thrilling, throbbing, piercing, yet refined
His boundless genius rushes like the wind
Through mountain passes, deep, dark, lone, and wild.
Then sinks to quiet like a weary child.
Still in his soul a plaintive voice is heard,
Ascending from the depths of hope deferred
By the cold world's neglect, or scorntul look
Of men who see no beauty in a book
Of nature or of poet ; men who find
More glory in their gold than all the realms of mind.
Gloomy incentives to a soul imbued
With all the poetry of gratitude.
That spiritual music of his lyre
Which, but for hope, in silence would expire,
Now that lone harp, in many a bitter pang,
Wails in its master's woe, where once it sweetly sang.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 323
For many years, as the editor of the " Shepherd's
Magazine," he was intimately connected with the author
of " Hours with the Muses," and to his credit was the
best friend of the more sinned against than sinning,
John Critchley Prince. Retiring from mill life, Mr.
Smith in 1854 became landlord of the Commercial
Inn, Melbourne Street, and during his residence was
elected a Town Councillor. Failing health caused
him to leave public business, and he died in Ashton-
under-Lyne, December 26th, 1&60, his body being
interred in the Old Chapel burial ground, Dukinfield.
REV. JOSEPH RAYNER STEPHENS.
A Scotchman by birth, Joseph Rayner Stephens lirst
saw the light in Edinburgh, on the 8th March, 1805,
being the sixth child of John and Rebecca Stephens.
As a youth he entered the Manchester Grammar School,
and was a fellow student of William Harrison Ainsworth.
Having completed his education he was ordained
a Wesleyan Minister in 1829, but owing to his political
and other beliefs he severed his connection with that
religious body in 1834.
The granite obelisk in Stamford Park perpetuates the
memory of Mr. Stephens in a worthy manner, the
inscription on the sides of the pedestal, in conjunction
with the excellent bronze medallion portrait, being
explanatory. The verse of the poem by Mr. Stephens
there quoted prompts the insertion of the whole
324 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
SCATTER THE SEED.
Scatter the seed I the seed of truth, believing it will grow ;
Look on the wilderness in ruth, it was not always so,
A garden once, it may again, a lovely garden be ;
It wants the sun, it wants the rain, of God-like charity.
•Scatter the seed ! the wholesome seed, of knowledge manifold ;
And time will deck the flowery mead, with blended white and gold.
No leaf so green as knowledge flings, unfading o'er the mind ;
No fruit so sweet as wisdom brings — rich fruit of every kind.
Scatter the seed ! the teeming seed, wide as the world abroad ;
Soon it will show itself indeed, the garden of our God,
We work and wait — we toil and trust, sure that the end will come
This wilderness of evil must be clothed with heavenly bloom !
Joseph Rayner Stephens died on the i8th February,
1879, and was interred at St. John's Church, Dukinfield,
where the baptismal font formerly used in the King
Street Chapel marks as a mute memorial his last resting
To the majority of our townspeople William Chadwick
will be best remembered as Chief Constable, a position
he held for 38 years ; but there was a feature in
his composition which has earned for him a niche in
the Valhalla of local scribes, and as a compliment to
his memory, the author would gratefully acknowledge
the kindly advice and encouragement given by the
'* Old Chief " on many occasions.
A native of Mottram, he quitted the village in his
earh- manhood, and his after career brought him in
contact with many whose names are fast passing into
oblivion. ^Ir. Chadwick was contemporary with
William Quarmby, Thomas Barlow, James Dawson,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 325
Ralph Bernard Robinson, and many others, including
all the better known scribes of the district. The inception
and completion of the " Lawrence Earnshaw " memorial
at Mottram was due to the energy and devotion of our
His own book of '* Reminiscences " is a compendium
of incidents and facts, valuable and interesting to all
home birds. Born on the 24th July, 1822, he lived on
through a period which had seen more changes than
any since the world began, and when the shadows
of age brought their warning, he sought only to be quiet
and alone. Wilham Chadwick died at The Hague,
Altrincham, on the 20th April, 1902, having nearly
completed his 8oth year. His remains were conveyed
to Mottram, where they rest within a few feet of the
cenotaph, with which his name must ever be connected.
The Laureate of the Cotton Famine.
Samuel Laycock was born at Intake Head, Marsden,
near Huddersfield, on the 17th January, 1826, his
father, John Laycock, being a hand loom weaver. About
the year 1837 the family migrated to Stalybridge, and
for seventeen years the future poet worked in the cotton
mills of this district as a power loom weaver, and for
other eight years as a cut looker. His first attempt at
rhyming was written on a cop ticket. For nearly six
years Laycock held the position of librarian and hall
keeper at the Stalybridge Mechanics' Institution, and
during his curatorship the Addison Club, a society of
326 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
persons literarily inclined, was formed, which, however,
had not a lengthy existence. Never of robust physique,
and thinking that the change might be beneficial, he left
Stalybridge in order to take up a similar position at
the Whitworth Institute, Fleetwood, when he was the
recipient of a handsome testimonial and a purse of gold
from his friends in Stalybridge, and at a later period of
a further tangible demonstration of his popularity, from
a number of artists and friends in Oldham, consisting
of £120 in gold and a number of valuable pictures and
The following poem (incomplete) is inserted in this volume by
the kind permission of W. E. Clegg, Esq., Oldham, the publisher of
Laycock's complete works, " Warblin's fro' an Owd Songster."
ONLY A POET.
" Only a Poet," a schemer o' schemes;
A weaver o' fancies, a dreamer o' dreams ;
Insanely eccentric, wi' long flowin' hair.
An' eyes strangely bright, wi' a meanin'less stare !
" Only a poet " — that 's all, nowt no moor ;
An' as everyone knows, often needy an poor ;
Tho' that little fault may be remedied soon,
If th' minstrel could alius get paid for his tune.
" Only a poet," — a gazer at th' moon,
Or soarin' aloft i' some mental balloon ;
Ah, some of 'em wingin' their flight to God's throne,
An' seemin' t' forget they'n a whom o' their own,
Wheer a wife may be ceaw'rd in an owd tattered gown,
Very patiently waitin' till th' husband comes deawn.
" Only a poet," a spinner o' rhymes,
An never caught worshippin' " dollars an' dimes."
" Only a poet ' — a star-gazin' bard,
At may tell yo' th' earth's distance fro' th' sun to a yard ;
But question him closely on trade, or bank shares.
An' he '11 show his ignorance bi' way 'at he stares.
Wanderin' throo' country lanes all the day long,
Gabblin' strange jargon, or croonin' some song ;
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 327
Pennin' grand thouts 'at may make the world stare.
Then die in a mad-heawse, like poor John Clare !
" Only a poet " -ah ! but what does that mean ?
Bein' passed bi' a naybur witheawt bein" seen ;
Becose just across there comes Alderman Stott,
An' he gets th' warm greetin' th' poor bard should ha got !
" Only a poet " — he s nowt he con spare ;
If his feelin's' are hurt a bit, what need yo' care ?
For a poet is noan o' much use as a friend,
Since he 's nowt he con give one. nor nowt he con lend.
" Only a poet," so let him alone,
Or if yo' think fit. yo' may fling him a bone ;
He lives o' such things- — bones an' owd meawldy books,
At least one would think soa. to judge by his looks.
Yo' keep eawt o' th' way on him, foalkes, for he's sure
To speak abeawt sum mat yo'n ne'er yeard befoor ;
He 's likely to tell yo' yo'n brains i' yo're yead,
An' a soul that '11 live when yo're body 's gone dead ;
He'll talk about spirit friends hoverin' reawnd,
When yo' know they 're asleep, fast asleep, deawni'th' greawnd.
He '11 offer to lead yo' through nature's sweet bowers.
An' bid yo' admire her grand fruitage and fleawers.
Very grand an' poetical ; nice food for kings,
Or bein's' "at flutter abeawt us wi' wings ;
" Only a poet," like Bloomfield or Burns,
'At may happen amuse yo' an' vex yo' i' turns ;
Neaw charmin' his readers wi'th' thouts fro' his pen,
Thus winnin' their heartiest plaudits, an' then,
It may be th' next minute yo'r filled wi' disgust
At some sarcastic bit, or some pointed home-thrust !
" Only a Poet," what moor do yo' crave.
To sweeten life's journey fro' th' cradle to th' grave?
The Manchester Literary Club did justice to Laycock
and credit to itself by electing him an honorary member,
whilst the Burnley Literary and Philosophical Society
paid him a similar tribute, and lastly the Blackpool
Town Council placed him on its Free Library Committee.
Samuel Laycock lived for many years at Blackpool,
328 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
where he was in business as a photographer, confectioner,
etc. He was a contemporary and friend of J. Critchley
Prince, Edwin Waugh, Ben Brierley, and other of
Lancashire's gifted sons.
He pubhshed three books, his last being " WarbUns
Fro' an Owd Songster," September, 1893, the issue of
which he only survived about three months. He died,
after a few days' serious illness, on the 15th December,
1893, and was interred in the Blackpool Cemetery.
BYGONE STALYBRIDGE 329
LIST OF MAYORS.
The following gentlemen have held the office of
]\Iayor and Chief Magistrate since the Incorporation
of the Borough of Stalybridge in 1857, up to and
Those marked * are Stalybridge born, whilst those
marked t are the surviving Mayors.
*i. William Bayley 1S57-8-9.
*2. Thomas Hadfield Sidebottom 1860-1.
*3. Robert Hopwood 1862-3-4.
*4. James Sidebottom 1865-6-7.
5. James Kirk 1868-9-70.
*6. John Hyde '.1871-
*7. Ralph Bates 1872-3.
8. Thomas Fernihough 1874.
t9. Robert Stanley 1875-6.
*io. Thomas Harrison 1877-8-9-80.
t*ii. Samuel Warhurst 1881-2-3.
12. Napoleon Ives 1884-5
1*13. Mark Fentem, Victorian Jubilee .. .. 1886-7-8.
114. Joseph Ridyard 1889-90-91.
15. John Cocker 1892-3
ti6. William Tinker 1894-5-
17. Thomas Machell 1896.
t*i8. John Richard Norman, Diamond Jubilee 1897-8-9.
fig. Allwood Simpson 1900-1-2.
t2o. Robert Wood i903-4-5-
t*2i. Albert Sidebottom, Borough Jubilee .. 1906-7.
t*22. Robert Dawson, Mayor Elect 1908.
330 BYGONE STALYBRIDGE
It may be that this collection of miscellaneous
gleanings is neither more nor less than a clumsily
made bouquet of borrowed flowers, and that the only
function performed by the writer has been that of
an insignificant gatherer of unconsidered trifles ; it
must, however, be remembered that the task was
voluntar}^ un-commissioned, and non-official, purely
a labour of love, and interest, to which circumstances
were favourable. The hard and fast rules usually
followed by trained scribes and commercial recorders
being entirely unknown to the writer, he has, after
his own fashion, endeavoured to place in permanent
form the result of his labours, never for a moment
trying to please everybody, knowing from experience
that such a thing is utterly impossible. The original
idea which presented itself to the author was the
preservation of personal facts concerning our local
worthies of the past, men who had, in some manner,
left their " footprints on the sands of Time."
The facts, places, incidents, and individuals dealt
with in these pages, have been as familiar during
thejast few months to the writer, as if they had
been still in existence, and although the worthy men
BYGONE STALYBRIDGE 33I
whose brief memoirs are given, have left us, all must
be proud to know and to feel that we have still in
our midst, noble-minded townsmen, who by their
generosity and sympathy, are even now building
for themselves, memorials which "neither moth nor
rust doth corrupt."
" The veil of obscurity should never be lifted with
an unkindly hand," therefore many items have been
committed to oblivion.
It may be a dream, but it is cherished neverthe-
less, that the information given in these pages will
be welcomed and appreciated in this the Jubilee
year. It is hoped that all will read with pride, and
share as the writer has done, " in his mind's eye,"
the struggles, trials, sorrows, joys, and successes of
our dead and gone celebrities who are even now
speaking to us through their works, their lives, and
their benefactions — from the shadow-land.
GRO. WHITTAKER & SONS
Renewed S2L^a5'^„U«To & i"! "-^ <i-.
— . "^*^" 'o "nmediate recall.
TOP 11 19^3
University of CaliSrnia